REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Apr. 27, 2015) -- Emailing large files within a heavily regulated government environment can be a tedious experience. Most mail servers restrict attachment sizes to a maximum of 10MB. Although email attachment limit is a universal best practice for information technology to preserve the integrity of the email database, it hindered Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center developers from sending or receiving large data files to one another.

AMRDEC created the SAFE Access File Exchange as an alternative way to share files. The AMRDEC workforce exchanges large data sets with other government agencies, foreign government, colleges and universities; and many of their customers do not have a Common Access Card or a .mil email address.

"Developers create software or programs that must be executable by the computer and executable .bet or .exe files are deleted from the Army server," said Paul Couch, AMRDEC, Deputy Chief Information Officer. "Our engineers also have large data sets over 10MB that must be analyzed or manipulated. These data sets are not executable programs but they would get deleted due to their file size. SAFE sees files as bits and bytes and not as the file type it is."

Soon after its launch in 2001, other branches of services, DoD agencies and universities realized the advantages of using SAFE to send data files; however a .gov or a .mil had to be involved in the transaction as either a sender or a receiver. Very quickly this AMRDEC engineering tool became a common platform for customers outside the DOD community to utilize.

"SAFE has evolved from 1,700 daily users in 2010 to over 11,000 users a day in 2015," said Keith Crowe, Senior Research Scientist, University of Alabama Huntsville. "Because some of our customers did not have a CAC we built in various security features which includes two factor authentications and the capability to use with other personal identity verification smart cards."

SAFE is encrypted and documents remain available for download for a limited time period. Once the password has been used to retrieve the file, the password is void and the document is permanently deleted. SAFE is not a depository and files are not backed up or placed in a database server.

U.S. Army Material Command recently notified AMRDEC that due to SAFE's ubiquitous use for a variety of purposes and types of data, SAFE would be required to have an approved Privacy Impact Assessment or PIA. Additionally, until SAFE acquires an approved PIA, users have to be notified that SAFE is not authorized for the transfer of Privacy Data.

"While AMRDEC does not believe there is any technical or security deficiency that would adversely affect any unclassified data being transmitted to, from, or temporarily residing on SAFE, they do understand the requirement that SAFE needs an approved PIA and are in the process of obtaining one," said Nathan Buchheit, AMRDEC CIO.

Meanwhile, SAFE remains operational for its original purpose which is to transfer large data files. The only obvious change is a posted banner stating that SAFE is for "unclassified use only, not approved for privacy data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII)" to remind users to refrain from sending PII type data in the interim. SAFE is available to authorized users at https://safe.amrdec.army.mil/SAFE/.

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AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. AMRDEC employs nearly 11,000 civilian scientists, researchers, and engineers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.