With no clear path to bringing 100 percent of the workforce back to physical offices in the short term, collaborative tools that enhance telework capabilities continue to be vital to organizations supporting the warfighter.
U.S Army Aviation and Missile Command has recently ramped up its use of the Commercial Virtual Remote Environment, rolled out by the Department of Defense in March in response to mass telework resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CVR is the DoD-licensed version of Microsoft Teams designed to facilitate unclassified file sharing, and text, voice and video collaboration up to the controlled unclassified information level.
“MS Teams was already in the works for the Army,” said AMCOM Chief Information Officer Shirley Perkey. She explained that DoD implemented CVR, DoD version of MS Teams, ahead of schedule to meet the needs of the federal workforce during this national emergency.
The DoD’s solution replaces other virtual meeting remedies, like Zoom, that have been prohibited since the onset of the current telework push.
“Zoom is not an Army-approved virtual conferencing tool at this time (and) has many issues that do not meet the cyber security requirements of the Army or the DoD,” Perkey said.
Initially intended to be a temporary solution to tide the DoD workforce over at the onset of the pandemic, DoD CIO Dana Deasy just extended use of the CVR and other telework tools until Dec. 15. The memo stated the extension “allows additional time for DoD’s defensive cyber components to improve readiness to support this new environment according to criteria and plans established by U.S. Cyber Command.”
“Currently, DoD continues to enhance security features prior to full release of Office 365,” Perkey said. There is not yet a launch date for the full MS suite of applications.
Both Perkey and Jonathan Glaze, alternate AMCOM command information management officer, touted the many benefits of CVR/MS Teams.
When using CVR from a desktop, users can share their screens with other meeting participants. Among other features, the CVR can be installed and used on personal devices. There is also a mobile app that allows connection from smart phones and tablets.
As always, there are concerns about using personally identifiable Information. PII discussed on the CVR should be limited to name, physical and email addresses, phone number(s) and work email addresses. No other PII or Sensitive PII is allowed to be used on the CVR.
The CVR does not require VPN or CAC for access, but multi-factor authentication is mandatory. Users need to follow the instructions to avoid being locked out of their accounts. There are instances where the phone number/device used for authentication is no longer accessible; that should be a consideration when setting up the account.
The self-service gateway allows users to resolve many issues on their own.
Using the authentication certificate to logon to the CVR portal at https://www.cloud.mil/CVR/ , users can reset multi-factor authentication and password, re-enable account and check e-mail, organization or sub-organization of a CVR account.
Glaze said the most-asked question is, “How do I reactivate my account?” Accounts are closed for extended inactivity, so users should log on at least monthly to keep their account active.
“Users must still update their CAC e-mail to match their existing .mil, .gov, or DoD-controlled .edu e-mail address,” he said. “CVR will not send invites/resets to other addresses.”