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News

FiXs Network supports military cyberspace security

Federation For Identity And Cross-Credentialling Systems (FiXs) : 01 July, 2009  (New Product)
Electronic verification and identity credentialing for military installation access supported by the FiXs Network
The Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems (FiXs), a public-private partnership dedicated to building and deploying a secure, interoperable identity and cross-credentialing network, has announced that its network is providing for the electronic verification and authentication of identity credentials for personnel seeking access to designated military installations and systems. The role of the FiXs Network in support of national initiatives to improve physical and cyber security for government organizations was underscored in testimony delivered on May 5, 2009 to the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee who met to review "Cyberspace as a Warfighting (Sic. Ed) Domain: Policy, Management, and Technical Challenges to Mission Assurance".

Among the witnesses was the deputy assistant secretary of defence for Cyber, Identity and Information Assurance and senior information assurance official of the Department of Defence (DoD), Robert Lentz who acknowledged the important role that FiXs plays in the fight against physical and cyber threats to DoD facilities and systems.

FiXs has extended the capabilities originally piloted with the Defence Manpower Data Centre (DMDC) and under a expanded Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2009, the parties agreed to a set of system specifications and operating rules for identity authentication that are designed to facilitate interoperability between the DoD and the industry-sponsored FiXs Network. This secure network provides real-time electronic verification and authentication of the identity of personnel seeking physical and logical access privileges to enter military installations, government-controlled areas, and commercial facilities, as well as logical access to online applications where individual access has been granted.

In his May testimony, Mr Lentz focused on DoD security initiatives to 'enhance the Department and the nation's information assurance/cyber security posture.' The increasing threats to national security drive a corresponding requirement to fortify information assurance initiatives. Mr Lentz acknowledged the role of FiXs as a key partner to the Department of Defence with its proven approach to 'standardised identity credentialing.'

"FiXs is pleased that the importance of a strong federated identity strategy has been recognized at the highest levels of our national cyber security leadership," said Dr Michael Mestrovich, president of FiXs. "FiXs has focused on maintaining its Certification and Accreditation (C&A), as accepted by the DoD, and on piloting interoperable secure authentication capabilities between the Department and its industry partners. FiXs currently has certified and accredited two credential issuers and hosts an accredited credential validation network.

As of June, 2009, the FiXs Network is operational with DoD offering users a trusted, federated identity authentication infrastructure to the DoD and other federal agencies. Although this infrastructure provides for secure authentication of personal identities, the granting of access privileges remains at the sole discretion of facility managers and application owners.

As highlighted by Mr Lentz, the use of hardware-based identity credentials has proven to be an effective means of reducing "known attack vectors." Of note, the FiXs-certified credentials currently are the only ones that carry and protect DoD-approved Medium Hardware Assurance digital certificates1 as specified under the DoD External Certificate Authority (ECA) PKI root, as included in the DoD PKE InstallRoot 3.12A.zip with all of the trusted DoD PKI and ECA PKI root and intermediate CA certificates. This technology enables logical authentication across the widest range of DoD Public Key-enabled websites. In addition, the credential provides for digitally-signed and/or encrypted e-mail/document transactions between DoD personnel and its trading partners. DoD approved Medium Hardware Assurance digital certificates (as well as the Medium Token Assurance digital certificates) are cross-certified with the Federal Bridge Certificate Authority (FBCA) at the Federal PKI Medium Hardware Assurance level. Therefore, FiXs-certified credentials are interoperable with the Federal PKI programs, including PIV/ PIV-I.
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