COMSEC Equipment is getting more complicated with each generation. Each make and model has a different set of data requirements, unlike older equipment which was fairly uniform. As COMSEC platforms move to a more software based solution, the ability to upgrade these systems becomes essential, To do this you need to know who has these platforms and where they are, and be able to notify custodians, deliver the upgrade and directions to the custodians, and verify the gear has been updated. In most organizations this information is scattered across dozens or hundreds of different software systems, or spread sheets, creating an unmanageable mess with no way to centrally use the information.
How can we management COMSEC Equipment better?
CARDS (COMSEC Accounting Reporting and Distribution System) takes care of all of your Configuration Management needs now and in the future. Providing the central authority information in seconds like current software versions, IP addresses, key splits, waveforms, etc. The information stored about a specific equipment type (Short Title) is dynamic and definable by the administrator of the CARDS system. Queries can be run against all of the information stored in the configuration management module in seconds. Software can be loaded into the CARDS system for download by the end user. This creates an end to end solution.
Configuration management is just the beginning of the equipment management capabilities in the CARDS system. CARDS also incorporates these other features:
- Procurement Module – The procurement module tracks orders from manufactures, and program allocation information.
- Spare inventory tracking
- Maintenance module – Tracks parts and time used to repair COMSEC assets, processes ROP/DA transactions for CCI board swapping.
- Accessory tracking – Tracks accessories such as antennas, push-to-talk hand sets, batteries, and fill cables.
- Real time value of inventory and depreciation
- Multiple wrap shipping module – Prints out inner and outer wrap lables for packages, keeps track of shipping control numbers and what was placed in each box.
The COMSEC Accounting, Recording, and Distribution System (CARDS) provides full life-cycle support for an organization’s COMSEC assets and automates all management-related tasks within an organization. In short, CARDS supports the “business” of COMSEC. From key managers at the Tier 1 COR to COMSEC custodians, CARDS enables functionality for everyone under the COMSEC umbrella. The current challenge in management of assets in a modern COMSEC Organization force is the use of a combination of software applications and platforms. Distribution of data and functionality across multiple platforms causes data duplication and an increase in error. CARDS wraps COMSEC management functions into a single modern portal system, which eliminates the need for stove-pipe applications. CARDS incorporates the following elements of COMSEC management, among others:
- Security / Access Control
- Physical Distribution / Shipping
- Data Archival
- Key Recovery
Security / Access Control
CARDS enables the authentication, modification, and deletion of privileges for individuals, organizations and system elements. All user connections are forced to authenticate and establish a valid session prior to gaining access to the CARDS Schema. Even if one were to bypass the portal applications and attempt direct connections to procedures and services, no database content can be rendered to the client without a validated session. Once a user has been properly authenticated, the security settings set by an administrator via the user privilege interfaces of CARDS to restrict a user’s system actions, from the accounts the user may manage down to the customized or standard reports the user may generate. Additionally, the system allows an administrator to monitor the actions of each user and to kick a malicious user out of the system as desired.
COMSEC accounts may request COMSEC material from the COR / Distribution account using the Material Requests interface, which allows an account to specify its requirements for material and send it to the proper COR / Distribution account for fulfillment. CARDS also provides users Shopping Cart functionality. The CARDS Portal Shopping Cart will allow users to order COMSEC equipment as a material request to a distribution account by specifying their COMSEC equipment requirements and ancillary information. This feature allows a user at a field account to browse through various categories of items, select the desired items, indicate the requesting account, and add them to a cart. The user can view/select equipment from a web-based catalog meeting their requirements. Each item in each category displays the item image, short title name, description, price, and any availability information. Once the user has completed shopping, the user may process the cart, creating a material request for those items and the indicated accounts. The material request is then processed and fulfilled as a work order from the desired distribution account.
CARDS also tracks procurement of equipment from vendors for specific programs or departments. CARDS provides a Procurement module to track procurement orders, funding sources and programs, and the allocation of COMSEC material based on previously defined procurement requirements. At any time, COMSEC personnel may view the procurement information for each piece of equipment – costs, funding source, and the owning program / project. COMSEC Personnel may also view the equipment balances for each program or department, transfer balances as desired, and create depreciation reports.
Physical Distribution / Shipping
CARDS automates the distribution of electronic and physical material in a secure manner. The CARDS package distribution module offers a digital format in which to track the creation and shipment of COMSEC packages and manifests. It is very flexible in all its processes, allowing user or administrator customization. An administrator may easily setup limitless shipping types, label types, and local element addresses, saving them in one location for easy access and modification. The CARDS distribution module supports multiple wraps with different labels for each wrap. It also provides support for tamper protection programs.
Mitigate the loss and duplication of documentation by storing documents digitally in one central location using CARDS Portal document management module. The document management module is used to store everything from wet signatures on reports to equipment manuals on the CARDS Server, allowing easy access from a central location. Easy associations of documents to an account or local element, short title, specific register item, work order, and transactions makes searching and access a snap.
With the use of explorer trees, COMSEC material search and management interfaces, CARDS tracks and displays the location and status of cryptographic products in real-time on one central database. From the time COMSEC material is received into the system to the time it is destroyed, CARDS records each COMSEC action and transaction performed on each item during its life cycle for retrieval by each user of the CARDS system.
Key Distribution / Recovery
CARDS incorporate multiple methods of key scheduling, distribution, and recovery. To enable key distribution, controlling authorities may set the key distribution requirements for each of its accounts, allowing automatic tracking of key expiration dates and ensuring automatic distribution of required key before expiration of current key to each account. CARDS Black Key distribution imports wrapped key from EKMS via floppy or wire and distributes it securely via network resources through the network to CARDS users. Each key download is SSL/TLS secured and authenticated using PKI certificates