The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has awarded Booz Allen Hamilton [BAH] a $6.8 million prototype deal to work on developing a new zero-trust security architecture.

Under the deal, announced on Wednesday, Booz Allen Hamilton will work with DISA over the next six months on operationally testing the zero-trust architecture, called Thunderdome, to ensure its scalability across the Pentagon.

DISA headquarters at Ft. Meade, Md. Photo: Army.

“Thunderdome reflects a substantial shift to a next generation cybersecurity and network architecture for DoD,” Chris Barnhurst, DISA’s deputy director, said in a statement. “Rooted in identity and enhanced security controls, Thunderdome fundamentally changes our classic network-centric defense-in-depth security model to one centered on the protection of data and will ultimately provide the department with a more secure operating environment through the adoption of zero trust principles.”

Booz Allen Hamilton’s support of the Thunderdome prototyping effort will include implementing DISA’s Zero Trust Reference Architecture by leveraging commercial technologies such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Software Defined-Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), the agency noted. 

“Thunderdome will enable the streamlining of DoD’s endpoint security solution set, enhance our security posture as we continue to invest in cloud technologies and implement new security capabilities,” DISA wrote in the announcement. “SASE technology will be used to supplement the current perimeter defense function and allow for direct internet access for DoD applications, regardless of the hosting environment.”

DISA noted the Pentagon’s decision last year to phase out the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) program and pivot to transitioning to a new zero trust-based security and network architecture, with the agency currently working on a strategy to migrate users from JRSS to constructs such as Thunderdome.

“As an enhanced security set of capabilities, Thunderdome will greatly help to defend and guard our systems against sophisticated adversaries,” DISA wrote. “Thunderdome will modernize DISA’s cybersecurity infrastructure to significantly improve our security posture as well as improve user access to cloud hosted applications by enabling dynamic, adaptable security from the user to the data and application edge.”

On Wednesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday released a new strategy for federal departments and agencies to move to a zero-trust network architecture (Defense Daily, Jan. 26). 

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, DISA’s director, said last week he is also seeking industry’s help in understanding how to best optimize its current systems amid the agency’s ongoing reorganization effort (Defense Daily, Jan. 20).