Pulse news magazine

Volume 18, December 2016

Connecting the uniforms

Network image
XTS Guard 5 proves to safely and securely transfer information between government networks.

XTS® Guard 5, Electronic Systems’ cross-domain information security solution, proves to safely and securely transfer information between government networks with differing security levels.

Interoperability is often challenging for U.S. forces and their coalition partners. The ability to pass information back and forth allows forces in the field to communicate with analysts and decision makers in the command-and-control structure.

BAE Systems Electronic Systems sector’s high-assurance, cross-domain solution – XTS® Guard 5 – ensures the right information gets into the right hands at the right time, allowing actionable intelligence to go from sensor to shooter.

The XTS Guard 5 was recently put to the test as the information-sharing centerpiece at the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence’s Enterprise Challenge 2016 (EC16) exercise. The annual exercise evaluates intelligence systems in an operationally realistic setting and demonstrates their integration and interagency data-sharing capabilities.

XTS Guard 5 allowed the U.S. intelligence community’s (IC) agencies, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States’ “Five Eyes” partners – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – to securely share files across security classifications and enclaves, something that had not been done in five years.

“The guard scans and filters different file types – it checks for viruses and specific words to determine if the information can be shared,” said Crystal Creviston, BAE Systems’ cyber engineer for the EC16 project. “It’s very sensitive and even catches disguised or embedded information. It safeguards our higher classification networks from bugs, viruses and malware and prevents classified data from reaching unclassified domains.”

Even with a crowded cross-domain product market, the customer chose Electronic Systems’ XTS Guard 5 for its ease of use and the ability to rapidly adapt the solution to meet changing mission requirements.

“XTS Guard 5 is easier to work with than anything else in the industry due to the integration of third-party tools, which allows for a more-flexible, adaptable solution while reducing customers’ operational costs,” said John Murphy, BAE Systems’ Cybersecurity Products director. “Our business model is fundamentally different than others in the industry. By integrating with third-party instantiations, XTS Guard 5 is more-customizable and therefore reduces the overall accreditation costs, as well as ongoing maintenance and support requirements.”

The sector’s team worked with CA Technologies’ gateway and Concurrent Technologies Corporation’s Advanced Guard for Information Security to complete advanced integration, which ensures customers can make changes to the data that they are passing through the guard much more efficiently than with other solutions. Changes can be made more readily using XTS Guard 5; the same changes could take up to six months with other cross-domain tools.

This combined solution has more flexibility than the competition because the product is commercial. The team can build and configure to requirements and deploy without government funding. Most of the other vendors’ offerings are government-off-the-shelf and require funding for configuring for new data types.

EC16 allowed participants to work through simulated situations to test the XTS Guard 5 and the passing of information.

During the scenarios, sensors collected data and shared it with other parties in the same battlespace. XTS Guard 5 fills a gap for sensor information sharing and search-and-discovery methodologies that our defense department has today. 

EC16 gave XTS Guard 5 the opportunity to exchange data across domains over disparate geographic regions, which had not been done before. China Lake, California; Ft. Huachuca, Arizona; Ft. Meade, Maryland; Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and international participants could not have shared information otherwise.

“Smooth transition of data is a huge advantage for our soldiers, for our marines,” said Creviston. “If your team’s collecting data on terrorist organizations out in the field and can send that data back to the right people, that’s a huge advantage. That’s what we succeeded in doing in EC16.”

The exercise provided ES with critical information and requirements regarding what capabilities should be introduced in the next XTS Guard product release and provided the other participants insight into how they can streamline their mission going forward.

“The exercise allowed us to research and develop data through operational security testing and evaluation,” said Angela Arrington, cyber engineer for the EC16 project, adding that cross-domain solutions must meet certain testing requirements, and data has to go through a certification, test and evaluation process prior to use. “We performed three testing and evaluation cycles for new data types in six months – that’s unheard of. Because we took a research-and-development approach, we are able to carry this over to operational networks. Some of the evaluation findings also helped form standards that the DOD and IC will use to try to bridge gaps between tactical and enterprise environments.”

Added Murphy: “EC16 gave us visibility into the DOD and IC than we’ve ever had. We interfaced with some really smart people who support very important functions – trying to protect our country from adversaries. We learned a lot about the concept of operations of the various uniforms. There are similarities and commonalities, but data types are vastly different. We can carry many types of data – sensor, measurement and signature intelligence, and so on.”

By Brandee Beiriger, Communications, San Diego