Let’s Make It Easier to Share Top-Secret Data With Allies, Intel Leader Says

A 2021 photo of Defense Intelligence Agency CIO Doug Cossa speaking at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) worldwide conference.

A 2021 photo of Defense Intelligence Agency CIO Doug Cossa speaking at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) worldwide conference. Myles Scrinopskie / Defense Intelligence Agency

The Defense Intelligence Agency’s CIO wants to expand collaborative workspaces—and resist the urge to mark everything NOFORN.

The Pentagon's military intelligence agency wants to build a digital common space so it can better share and secure top-secret information with international partners. 

“It has become commonplace where we develop everything in a no-foreign environment, and that model needs to flip,” said Doug Cossa, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s chief information officer, said Tuesday.

“And the capability delivery pipeline that we're developing in DIA is that one front door, that one shared environment to where we can overlay those standards for cybersecurity, for interconnectivity across agencies, across the community, across the IC and DOD and across our federal partners,” Cossa during a keynote speech at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System, or DoDIIS, Worldwide Conference in San Antonio, Texas. 

Teaming with the Pentagon’s chief information office, DIA wants to create a “simple IT foundation” that leans on the concept of using common services and interoperable infrastructure. The agency is also working with the Defense Information Systems Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

To get there, Cossa said he’s focused on five main priorities for 2023: updating and expanding the top-secret JWICS internetwork, moving toward zero-trust systems, improving communications with international partners, delivering software to the defense intel community, and improving the workforce. 

JWICS, which stands for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, is a decades-old network that facilitates top-secret communications. DIA wants update infrastructure, expand its reach, secure it with zero trust principles, and add autonomous features. 

“You need JWICS to connect on the top-secret fabric and we've put renewed focus and renewed priority across the entire community to really modernize it. And it's more than just replacing the old aged infrastructure. It's about adding new cybersecurity, especially zero-trust principles to it, but also looking into the future and how to make that network more autonomous,” he said. 

DIA is also looking to update and expand its desktop environment, DODIIS, which uses JWICS.

DODIIS is what “users see” when interacting on their computers and phones as well as “what happens behind the scenes of our local area networks that make that connectivity possible, especially through JWICS,” he said.

Cossa said the plan is to extend the “company storefront model”—the desktop operating environment co-led by DIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency—to federal agencies outside of the IC that use top-secret information. So far, 17 agencies have migrated, which will permit the IC to better “integrate our functions together,” Cossa said.

The tech chief said DIA wants to add more foreign intelligence agencies to its collaborative work environments. The agency has already deployed a collaborative tool kit called Torch with common email, chat, search, and data repositories for Five Eyes partners. Next year, it wants to expand it. 

“The idea is to now extend this out beyond just the Five Eyes, with our other international partners to where we integrate our environment seamlessly,” Cossa said, noting that international connectivity typically means developing “technologies that really create a seam between the environment that we work in, and then also the environment that they work in.”

But the goal is to remove that.

Cloud, and several of them, will be important to execute that and what is called the capability delivery pipeline. 

The Defense Department is taking notes from the intelligence community on using multiple cloud environments. But Cossa argued better integration will require creating a single point of entry for new software.

“We need one pipeline, one entry point to be able to build our services, design them. A common development environment where we're not only going through one front door to ensure that things are designed in an integrated way, but we're also looking at the standards, the things such as zero trust principles, that we need to overlay on top of the capabilities that we develop the data principles to ensure that everything we develop is Five-Eyes-interoperable,” even in a  multi-cloud environment, Cossa said, naming the IC’s commercial cloud enterprise, or C2E, and the DOD’s newly awarded JWCC, which will help DIA extend its desktop environment. 

Cossa’s comments come after the Defense Department awarded four companies a piece of its $9 billion cloud contract, called the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, that promises to provide secure and ultimately top-secret connectivity from the battlefield to the boardroom. 

Stacey Dixon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, emphasized the need for companies to invest in cybersecurity and deliver tech with “assurance.”

“We can't be worried about the security of your systems and our systems. We want to be able to trust your systems but you have to make those investments in cybersecurity and continue to make those investments because we all know there's no end game when it comes to cybersecurity,” Dixon said Tuesday at the DoDIIS conference. “Being able to know that the information that we're getting has been protected along the entire stream and that there's no interference from foreign adversaries—that will go a long way.”

NEXT STORY: The CX Executive Order Turns One

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.