Five Ways to Improve Military Identity Management

Five Ways to Improve Military Identity Management

As the military is called on to face a variety of unconventional threats, identity management and security are becoming more important. To keep threats at bay, we recommend reviewing the fundamentals. Leaders and officers set the tone for security practices, so we will begin there.

1. The Need to Verify the Commander’s Identity and Authority

Have you heard of the “nuclear football?” It is a small device carried by a military officer who accompanies the president at all times. This device is required to select targets and authorize the use of nuclear weapons. Given the high stakes involved, it is absolutely vital that such orders are properly issued. In fact, President Kennedy’s personal concerns over identity management contributed to our modern system. The same issues over command and control also apply to other situations. The troops on the ground need to have confidence that they are acting on valid orders rather than disinformation from an enemy.

Security Check: Do you have systems and processes in place to verify military orders and communications?

2. Controlling the Security Clearance Process

If classified information falls into the wrong hands, people can die. That’s why the military establishment takes security clearance seriously. However, no system is perfect. In 2008, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier resigned from the Canadian government after he mishandled classified information. Unfortunately, such incidents are far from uncommon at all levels of the military and political system. Exercise caution in granting security clearance to individuals in your organization. When this access is granted, periodic audits and reviews are recommended to discourage mistakes.

Security Check: Do you have a process to brief and train all individuals who receive security clearance about their responsibilities?

3. Managing the Security Risks Posed by Military Contractors

In the 2000s, contractors and third parties in the military community attracted increased attention. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, the media raised questions about the conduct of third parties. From a security perspective, these third parties pose a security risk if they are not governed properly. As The Atlantic reports, “Since 2009, the ratio of contractors to troops in war zones has increased from 1 to 1 to about 3 to 1.” If that trend continues, military and political leaders will need to extend their identity management systems to cover these security contractors.

Security Check: What process is used to identify and manage the access granted to military contractors?

4. Eliminate Manual Security Change Processes

Have you ever been frustrated by a complicated paper form? All you see is line after line of complicated questions. Military security is complex, so we cannot eliminate all of those steps. However, you can make the process easier to manage for your staff. Instead of asking them to use multiple systems to review, authorize, and change access, look for ways to simplify and automate the process.

The military community operates under extreme pressure and stress. That’s why it deserves easy-to-use security management tools. Otherwise, security oversights may be made.

Avatier’s security and identity management products exceed military requirements. By working with Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems, we know what it takes to succeed in the military field.

5. Control “Internet of Things” Device Identity

When we speak about identity management, we are generally referring to people. That’s not the whole story when it comes to the military community. Consider the growing popularity of cruise missiles, drones, and other network-connected equipment. Drones are now in use by America, Nigeria, Italy, China, and several other countries. Drones are actively being produced and exported by America, China, and other countries, according to Fortune. In these cases, the devices need a process to identify each other, verify the source of information, and act accordingly.

Security Check: To verify system performance, periodically “attack” systems to see if they properly recognize users and devices.

Further Reading and Resources on Military Security

The fine details of military security requirements and practices are not in the public realm. However, these articles illustrate trends and incidents that the military community needs to understand.

CBC News, Bernier quits cabinet post over security breach, May 26 2008

Clay Dillow, All of These Countries Now Have Armed Drones, Fortune, Feb 12, 2016

Michael Dobbs, The Real Story of the “Football” That Follows the President Everywhere, Smithsonian Magazine, October 2014

Sean McFate, America’s Addiction to Mercenaries, The Atlantic, Aug 12 2016

Written by Nelson Cicchitto