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DoD planning to pilot biometric technologies to replace access card


The Department of Defense (DoD) said it is planning multiple pilots for multi-factor authentication solutions including biometrics and other “patterns of life” technologies, over the next six-to-12 months, according to a report by Federal News Radio.

The initiative comes nearly a year after former DoD chief information officer Terry Halvorsen set the goal of replacing the Common Access Card (CAC) with more agile and less costly authentication technology.

Halvorsen said in November that the eventual solution might combine biometrics such as iris scanning, behavioral biometrics and cross-referencing the personal information of users.

“We are evaluating some solutions. We are about to put out a contract using an Other Transactions Authority equivalent,” Alfred Rivera, Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) director of the development and business center, said during a panel sponsored by AFCEA Northern Virginia. “There is a contract. We were initially going to go through Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), but now we are partnering with the Army through their OTA to do a contract. We are moving forward now and funding is available to do these initial pilots.”

Rivera said DISA has already met with several vendors who have been able to prove there are several solutions, such as biometric technologies, which are ready for testing.

“We’ve met with other scientific organizations like DARPA that have been evaluating this for multiple years. We are coordinating and collaborating with them,” he said. “There are capabilities that we are confident in and the next step is taking those and extending and expanding it to an organization as big as DoD.”

DISA has been working on a way to use CAC with mobile devices, testing out different methods of derived credentials.

One initiative called Purebred involves the use of MobileIron’s derived credentials solution, which enables employees to gain secure access to secret and classified networks without using additional hardware like smart card readers.

The agency is working on developing hardened phones that can access secret and classified networks.

DISA is also testing mobile devices that can work across the agency’s top-secret network, Rivera said.

Previously reported, the Pentagon recently established a new “Defense Innovation Advisory Board” in order to import technological innovation and best practices from Silicon Valley.

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