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GCN : October 2012
40 GCN OCTOBER 2012 • GCN.COM DAVID WIEGOLD GCN AWARDS MULTI-DOMAIN DISSEMINATION SYSTEM DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY When it comes to fighting wars, having access to good information often means the difference between life and death. For a long time, however, the security regimen that the Defense Department has built around its data got in the way of timely information sharing. Soldiers might be able to freely text messages to each other about the move- ment of the enemy, for example. But to satisfy data security protocols, higher- level officers watching the encounter remotely might have to send critical in- formation to the soldiers through an in- termediary, resulting in potentially fatal delays. The Defense Intelligence Agency's Multi-Domain Dissemination System (MMDS) eliminates that delay by acting as a bridge between networks that have various security clearance levels. Those with higher clearances can now send rel- evant documents immediately to those with lower clearances because MMDS can "pre-stage" the release of allowable information. "It provides for a reliable, human re- view of documents," said Danielle Mc- Gahee, MMDS program manager. "A two-stage process allows for documents to be pre-checked so they're ready at a moment's notice to be sent to a lower security domain." One person creates the package of information and sends it through MMDS, requiring a review by another person before it can be released. And MMDS automatically will check the document for viruses and malware. MMDS also prevents anyone from us- ing a thumb drive to transfer data from one computer to another because it forces users to walk through all the steps needed to pre-stage documents. It also breaks any secure transmission to exam- ine all of the content, ensuring that for- bidden information won't slip through. MMDS acts as the equivalent of the HTTP that runs the Internet. As long as any document, application, discussion forum or other information source was created on a network connected through MMDS at or below someone's clearance level, that person can pull it up in his browser on his own network. About 200,000 users, mostly in the intelligence community, are connected through MMDS and its adoption is grow- ing at a steady 30 percent a year. Just about all of that growth has come about through word-of-mouth, but McGahee and her team are looking to more active- ly promote MMDS throughout the fed- eral government. "So many people are using MMDS now but have no idea that's what they are using," she said. Because the information would now be available to users through MDDS, it could potentially save government a lot of money. Organizations would not have to build apps on their own networks, along with the servers and storage need- ed to host content. • --- Brian Robinson Two-stage DIA protocol preps documents to move at 'moment's notice' across separate security domains Accelerate intell across the chain of command From left: Anthony Schwartz, Ken Orton, Danielle McGahee, Tonya Picou, Scott Willie, Norm Richmond ORGANIZATION: Defense Intel- ligence Agency PROJECT: Multi-Domain Dissemi- nation System CHALLENGE: To speed the sharing of critical information between networks with di erent security classifications. SOLUTION: Build a hardware/ software bridge that provides the necessary security filters and per- missions so that users can view all the information from a single browser. AT A GLANCE