U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves

Space Force inches closer to classified remote work

The platform could be a popular remote-work solution for Space Systems Command.

Some guardians could soon do their classified work from home thanks to a new prototype. 

GDIT calls it the Enigma Project: a digital environment that allows users from government, academia, industry, and others to access classified and unclassified information from a single device. 

“We did the initial operational capability of our Commercial Solutions for Classified,” or CSFC, which is a “single device, laptop, that someone can have [Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] on it at the same time…So someone doesn't have to physically go in and out of a secure spot,” said Travis Dawson, Enigma’s director. 

Space Systems Command awarded GDIT $18 million as part of an other transaction agreement to develop a digital environment in January 2023. The agreement has since been extended to January 2025 to add more commercial cloud environments that can handle secret-level data. 

“It's a collaborative digital environment across multiple security classifications for multiple users across government, industry, academia, et cetera,” that will help with “application onboarding, integration, and support services for any third-party applications from across contractors vendors, supporting those operations,” said Dawson. 

GDIT demonstrated Enigma—outfitted with software development, digital engineering and IT management tools—at Los Angeles Air Force Base about three weeks ago. But while there seemed to be some initial excitement on using a portable secret-work capable computer, there’s a catch.  

“You can't just pop your laptop up at Starbucks,” Dawson said. “Some of the things within that user agreement would be, you know, you're in a closed space, there's no windows, there's no one else home, your cell phone isn't with you—things of that nature.”

Dawson stressed that Enigma’s technology isn’t new and has been sanctioned by the National Security Agency. But there’s potential, especially because the uptake has been slower for secure capabilities that can handle classified information to take hold, compared to the use of remote unclassified work that became widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the Pentagon also updated its telework policy earlier this year, which included use of  classified telework devices. 

The cloud-based prototype could also help users overcome limitations of existing infrastructure, such as what’s available on base.

“The reliability is not always there,” he said, so users are “not solely dependent on defense circuits, which are down or have stability concerns.” 

Enigma also has an in-office version that uses a “trusted thin client” that can connect to the environment. But it is still a single device where users can toggle between the unclassified and classified networks up to the secret level. 

GDIT may also explore upping the classification levels in addition to the request for more  cloud providers.  

“There is a desire for this to eventually go to a [top secret] and [special access program] level. But that's not within our purview at the moment right now. That's just a desire of the government forthcoming,” Dawson said.