Information Warfare: Lost In the NIPRNET


January 23, 2010:  The U.S. Department of Defense is spending $10 million to have a civilian firm create a roadmap for NIPRNET (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network). The Department of Defense has two private Internets (using Internet technology, but not directly connected to the public Internet). NIPRNET is unclassified, and the primary network for American military personnel. SIPRNET is classified, and all traffic is encrypted. You can send top secret stuff via SIPRNET.

NIPRNET is the largest private network on the planet, with several million authorized users and an estimated ten million devices (PCs, and other electronic equipment) connected. If this sounds vague, it is, because NIPRNET has grown steadily, since it was created (from the earlier MILNET) in the 1980s. In effect, NIPRNET is seen as a little out of control, and the roadmap program is meant to find out how big it has gotten, and exactly what is in there. The survey will also seek to find any instances where unauthorized users have quietly joined the net. This is suspected, and the survey is a major effort to clean interlopers out. The survey will also look for weakness in security. The Department of Defense has made a major effort over the last few years, to improve network security. But that work has revealed that weaknesses can show up in the strangest places.



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