US Government agencies communicate via a tiered system of secure networks. After 9/11, more agencies gained access to these channels of information, but that sharing came with increased risk of a leak – as evidenced by last year’s WikiLeaks disclosures of SIPRNet documents. The Pentagon estimates there are a half-million SIPRNet users; it takes only one to cause a breach.
BY Sharon Weinberger
Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet) A US Defence Department computer network used to share unclassified information. Sample uses: e-mails between Pentagon officials discussing unclassified meetings; unclassified military Web sites.
Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) A classified computer network for sharing information at the Secret security level. Sample uses: e-mails with targeting information or fliight times for combat missions; classified intelligence agency Web sites.
Networks such as NSANet and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System transmit information above Secret, up to the Sensitive Compartmented Information designation. Sample uses: e-mails with classified satellite imagery; sending intel field reports.