Air Force

April 27, 2012

New common access cards coming

Staff Report

Common Access Cards are getting an overhaul and if you don’t take care of yours by Oct. 1, you could get locked out of military networks.

The overhaul is part of a Defense Department-wide effort to better secure your cards with advanced encryption codes, along with the removal of social security numbers to help protect your identity.

The Air Force is in the process of publishing a joint-service instruction to detail all the changes.

If you have an older Common Access Card, you need to have it upgraded. The decision was made earlier this year to ensure all cardholders get the new card by October, including all active-duty airmen, guardsmen, reservists, civilians and contractors.

The changeover began in 2008 with the issuance of a Defense Department-wide Directive Type Memorandum that outlined the plans for increased security for the cards, including a new 2,048-bit encryption, which replaces the 1,024-bit encryption on old cards, as a way to block outsiders from accessing the information embedded within the card.

The additional bits provide stronger security, said Lily Chen, a mathematician with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “It would take an enormous number that a computer would need to factor, in order to access the secured information,” she said.

NIST is working with DOD to set encryption standards on CACs.

Earlier this year Chinese-based cyber attacks targeted the cards with technology that could steal information from military networks while members with the cards were logged into the networks at their desks.

The changeover has been underway since the first card was sent out in late 2010, according to the Air Force Personnel Center. The Air Force sent notices to ID card issuance sites advising them of who was affected; later, emails were sent out to affected individuals in February.

Go to your Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System, or RAPIDS, card issuance office for more information. You can find the nearest site by visiting www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl. Any RAPIDS site will be able to issue your new card.

Your CAC is your access to DoD networks and facilities and without a valid one, you’ll be locked out. If you can’t make it on time, you’ll need to get approval from manpower officials at your base to push the deadline back.




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