Defence gives its security pass card a fail

Defence's Canberra-region electronic access card system suffering "decreasing overall performance"

Defence is to overhaul the electronic access card system which controls staff access to facilities in the Canberra region amid decreasing overall performance of the security system.

According to Defence documents, the agency introduced an electronic access control system (EACS) to the Defence Canberra Region in 2005 to support positive identification and physically control access to designated restricted areas within the Defence estate in the ACT.

The Defence Canberra Region EACS Network, also referred to as the Defence ACT Common EACS Network, operates across a number of locations throughout the ACT.

The system is based on Cardax’s FT Command Centre v4.2 access control product and works in conjunction with a Defence Common Access Card system, which combines visual photo recognition and physical access control.

“Defence’s Cardax v4.2 system, and associated ICT infrastructure, is characterised by a decreasing mean time between failure and decreasing overall System performance,” the documents read.

In order to counter this decreasing overall system performance, a technology refresh of the current system will replace end-of-life server hardware and upgrade its CardaxFT Command Centre software to version 6.0.

It will also replace end-of-life guard station desktop computers that manage positive identification and visitor management access control credentials, and introduce a “fully integrated” visitor management solution.

The overhaul comes at a time when spending on ICT projects has accelerated dramatically.

Already this month defence minister, Stephen Smith, has given “first pass” approval to a Battlespace Communications System project, costing up to $500 million, and aimed at providing the ADF with a next generation telecommunications network capability.

Smith has also given “pre-first pass analysis” into the costs and risks associated with streamlining and improving its human resources and payroll systems for military and civilian personnel. The project is also expected to cost up to $500 million.

First pass approval for a pilot of Defence’s next-generation desktop project has also been given.

The project, first flagged in April last year, is expected to allow 15,000 of the agency’s 75,000-strong user base to access systems classified as “restricted” and “secret” under current security clearances on a single desktop, rather than two separate machines as is currently practice.

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