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The Common Access Card (CAC) is a smart card issued by the Department of Defense of the United States (DoD) to its various personnel. It serves as a standard identification card. Eligible personnel include active-duty military personnel, department of defense staff and contractor personnel, National Guard members, reserve military personnel, civilian employees and other non-DoD government employees (Miller, Vandome & McBrewster, 2010). The CAC serves as a photo-ID hence it is used for general identification and authentication to permit building access, access to DoD computers, networks, and facilities as well as to provide digital signatures on purchases ordered. It is also officially accepted as an identification card based on the Geneva Conventions. With the introduction of the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) computer security technology, CAC also allows the encrypting and cryptographically signing email, reduces unauthorized use, and creates an authoritative process for the use of identity credentials (Miller, Vandome & McBrewster, 2010).
The common access card is very important and one must be accountable for it. This is because by using CAC, the Department of Defense has begun implementing a system where physical and logical identification and access control is associated with a single card. These CAC cards offer the same features as a traditional physical access card complete with photo ID and descriptive information about the carrier. However, they also have the ability to log the holder of the card onto a logical network. For instance, after scanning their CAC in a CAC reader by the door to enter a building, an individual could swipe the card in a CAC reader that is connected to their workstation to authenticate themselves on the network. Further, they could use the CAC to encrypt information, access secured website and other mechanisms used for secured logical access. CACs are slowly replacing the military IDs and will eventually be carried by all military personnel, employees, and contractors.
From a convergence perspective, CAC is a great leap forward because now a user's physical and logical identity are associated with a common key, instead of a physical access id being something like 100010011 and a logical ID being dtrower, both will be dtrower. Since all access is associated with one CAC, if you provision or revoke the CAC, you can more quickly and effectively provision or revoke the individual' access in its entirety. The CAC has very important objectives, such as accessing controlled facilities, managing access to computer networks, permitting holders to electronically sign documents, and encrypting email messages. This efficiency and importance of the CAC underscores the need for one to be very accountable for it.
Common Access Cards are intended to support protected operating environment with meticulous security and information assurance for both the users and system. For instance, the information sent in the encrypted could be very sensitive. CACs maintain the integrity and confidentiality of information as well as concomitantly securing sensitive data cards. Owing to its robust security features and versatility, fraud, and access of information by unauthorized individuals is reduced and limited. Therefore, accountability is paramount to prevent any compromises that would lead to unauthorized access of vital information; such compromises would expose the country and the armed forces to security risks especially in this age of terrorism, and military deployment in various high-risk countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moreover, since CAC allows strong identification with storage of demographic data, it is easy to detect any compromise that may occur with subsequent easy identification of the involved party. Accountability is necessary, as any cases of collusion will be easily detected, and necessary action taken. To avoid such risks and the consequences of such unauthorized use, one needs to be accountable for their Common Access Cards. CAC not only identifies you but also contains significant information about yourself such as you name, social security number, and other important details. One needs to be accountable because loss of the CAC can result in identity theft especially in this era of internet age and cybercrime (Reyes & O'Shea, 2007). Accountability also entails having your CAC and producing it as required. In international battles when on may be captured as a prisoner of war, it help to identify the captured soldier and therefore aid in humane treatment as a prisoner of war according to the Geneva convections.
In actual battlefields, CAC are used to make real-time orders for supplies shifting from the traditional just-in-case orders. This has reduced wastage and enhanced efficiency. Loss of the CAC would greatly jeopardize operations and put the lives of the soldiers at unnecessary risks. Besides, the loss of theft of CACs has a considerable impact on the State's capability to ensure proper personnel protection and security on military installations. Negligence and unaccountability in safeguarding the CAC, particularly when the unaccountability results in misuse, personally jeopardizes the security of all United States personnel and their families.
Loss of Common Access Cards attracts action of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) action depending on the incident review of the CAC loss. For the first time loss, one gets a written warning and counseling from his immediate superior; for the second loss, one must get a counseling memorandum signed by the first 0-5 superiors in their chain of command; a subsequent loss attracts possible extra adverse administrative actions including loss of command sponsorship. However, where it is determined that the individual intentionally committed a wrongful act pertaining to the loss or inappropriate uses of the CAC, punitive actions are applied. Some wrongful acts include illegal possession or use of CAC, using the CAC to defraud or deceive, altering, tampering with, selling, loaning, or counterfeiting.
The punitive measures vary with the crime but will include bad-conduct or dishonorable conduct, deprivation of all pay and allowances, and imprisonment for periods between six months to three years depending on the severity of the act. This is because these cards are treated like government property. For example, at the Fort Campell ID card department, there have not been much cases concerning the stolen identity of military personnel. Sometimes, children want to admire their parents' photographs and then the action goes too far when they go to play with the cards leading to disappearance. A fact, which is comprehended by those working at the department. It is approximated that 300 cards are replaced every month at Fort Campell (Macintire, 2008).
In conclusion, common access cards are new smart cards that have put the Department of Defense in the vanguard of e-commerce and security. They are important for identification purposes as well as accessing various military facilities and ensuring security of both the cardholders and the system. It is the duty of cardholders to be accountable for their Common Access Cards. The severe punitive measures can be avoided if one embraces responsibility, a very important virtue in military service. In addition to that, some essential services like shopping, utilization of childcare centers, getting to the work post, and accessing work computers become impossible tasks.