You might not know much about the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network – dubbed SIPRNet – and that's by design. It's an ultra-secure network used by officials with the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of State to share and exchange highly classified intelligence – and it's recently received an upgrade.
Meeting Current Technological Standards
Believe it or not, some of SIPRNet's framework dates back to the mid-1990s. While much of the system's infrastructure has already been upgraded, the latest upgrade represents the final step in SIPRNet's transition to a virtual network. This achievement results in some much-needed improvements, including:
Massive bandwidth upgrades. Due to the age of some of its primary components, SIPRNet was still operating with a 1G capacity. The latest upgrade effectively increases bandwidth to 10G.
Improved accessibility. The recent upgrade adds greater access to the Joint Information Network – JIE – contained within SIPRNet. Potential users will be attracted to SIPRNet due to its increased compatibility with the Secret-Joint Regional Security Stacks, or S-JRSS.
Mark Williams, Classified Internet Protocol (IP) Portfolio Manager with the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency – or DISA – spoke about s-JRSS technology by saying: "This transition makes mission partners ready for S-JRSS transport. The transport utilizes Advanced Crypto Compliant (ACC) encryptors, so when mission partners are ready for S-JRSS, they will only need to make router changes."''
Welcoming New Partners
The process of assimilating into the network is easier than ever before. Thanks to network virtualization and SIPRNet's ACC High Assurance IP Encryptor – HAIPE – new users only have to focus on localized encryption on their end. Not only does this reduce encryption costs on behalf of SIPRNet users, but it minimizes errors and bottlenecks by standardizing partner equipment.
DISA even jumpstarted this particular initiative by providing the necessary encryption devices to current customers, but new partners are responsible for acquiring, replacing and upgrading these devices in the future.
Williams continued his statement by highlighting the importance of DISA's encryption devices by saying: "DISA is taking advantage of efficiencies found in multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and its network expanding technology and is aggregating costs to the virtual local access network (VLAN. This means that more than 10,000 users can connect virtually to one router on the DISA side. The new encryption devices allow this connection to happen."
In addition to the benefits listed above, the virtualization of SIPRNet has another effect on the network as a whole: it makes it smaller. Not only does this make it harder to target in hacks or concentrated cyber-attacks, but it improves the network's compatibility with next-gen devices and makes it easier to upgrade in the future.
Embracing Next-Gen Technology
If nothing else, SIPRNet at least shows initiative on behalf of the U.S. government. It's an entity that isn't always known for its quick or complete embrace of technology, but their recent upgrades to SIPRNet represent a huge investment in the future of IT infrastructure across the country. There's still a lot of ground to tread in order to close the technological gap, but they're finally headed in the right direction.
U.S. DoD Introduces Enhancement to SIPRNet
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