April 30, 2021

DOD to allow personal phones to access ‘DOD365’ platform

Written by Jackson Barnett Apr 28, 2021 | FEDSCOOP The Department of Defense is working…

Written by

Jackson Barnett

The Department of Defense is working to allow personnel to access its new collaboration platform DOD365 with personal cellphones, a change to initial plans where only government-provided mobile devices would be allowed to connect.

John Sherman, acting DOD CIO, said several agencies within the department are working to find cyber-secure ways for mobile phones to access DOD365, the DOD’s higher-security version of Microsoft Office 365.

Mobile phones offer hackers many potential access points, hence the initial concerns about having them access the new environment where millions of DOD employees would work, Sherman had previously told FedScoop.

“We are working with the services and [the Defense Information Systems Agency] to test various capabilities to test personal phones and tablets to access the environment in a cyber safe way,” Sherman said Wednesday during the IT Modernization Summit presented by FedScoop. “This initiative is challenging and going to take some time, but we are determined to get it right.” 

The transition to DOD365 is one of the largest modernization pushes inside the DOD. When the pandemic hit, the DOD stood up the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment, a stop-gap measure that allowed the DOD workforce to stay connected through email, Microsoft’s Teams platform and chat functions. DOD365 is a “parallel” effort the department has been working on for years to create a unified back-office system for employees to access many of the functions they have in-office while working remotely.

“DOD365 is our enduring solution that we must, by necessity, hold to a higher cybersecurity level,” Sherman said.

CVR was only accredited to Impact Level 2, meaning sensitive material could not be transmitted in the environment. DOD365 is expected to handle data up to Impact Level 5 and have a wider range of functions, like OneDrive, Microsoft’s file sharing and storage solution.

Transitioning underway

Some parts of the DOD have already begun transitioning to DOD365, like the Air Force and Marine Corps. Each service will have its own tenancy in the environment, and the Defense Information Systems Agency will provide back-end help for combat support agencies and most of the combatant commands through its cloud tenancy.

“We are well into the process of implementation,” Sherman said. This summer is the target for when all agencies and services to complete the transition.

The U.S. Coast Guard will also transition and be a part of the environment, even though it is technically housed in the Department of Homeland Security.

“I find this to be one of the most impressive transitions I have ever had the chance to help lead and coordinate,” Sherman said.