By ALEXANDER NARA
IT was one dark morning at PNGDF headquarters inside Murray Barracks, Port Moresby.
The kind that made people believe it is usually the darkest before dawn.
I was slouched in a drunken stupor manner over the keyboard, staring at the desktop screen.
If it was a hangover, it would be a privilege but this was a night I dedicated to meet a deadline.
A light drizzle that started about an hour ago was drumming lazily on the roof of surrounding buildings.
Dawn for some reason seemed certainly delayed, as if it refused to come or was conspiring with darkness to prolong the night.
The door to my office was slightly opened, its slant spilling a neat slash of pale yellowish light that cut across the building’s dim corridor outside before it dropped over the rails and into a backdrop of shadows that lurked over the lawn below.
Light raindrops hung in its evanescent path, more like glistening along the shimmering trail it left behind.
Parts of Force Preparation Branch (FPB) building stood to the right, almost silhouetted against a veil of darkness that hovered over the nearby Brigadier Hill.
The FPB houses certain efficacies of PNGDF operations including directorates of maritime, land and air that are functionally structured under the branch.
I leaned back on the chair and stared through the door, feeling my lovely Kerema fingers slinked quietly as usual into the burrows of my jean pockets in search for any surviving dust from the last cigarette.
I adjusted myself on the chair to give them enough space.
They sometimes operate on their own.
The force Information and Technology (IT) section is tucked towards the far end of the ground floor who are responsible for monitoring and maintaining of the entire Defence internet network as one of its core priorities.
It was in recent months that the section was deployed to execute a complete internet network upgrade across the force.
This includes the elevation from category 5 (Cat5) to category 6 (Cat6), hosted by a new state of art Cisco Hyperflex server series believed to be the first in PNG.
Cisco hyperflex is a multi-cloud server series and is the new frontier in the digital world.
It delivers a high performance network and connectivity where data and the user within the network can reliably connect anywhere in the world, despite remoteness.
After years of being on Land Area Network (LAN) under Cat5, the organisation began the elevation early this year with more emphasis being placed on protecting the users and information transmitted.
“Cyber security challenges are growing along with the expansion of internet and opportunists are aiming at political and military assets of a nation, or its people,” Chief of Staff Captain (Navy) Philip Polewara said.
He said it was important for PNGDF to keep pace with the changing web and its associated threats and had to optimise a better and secure network for itself in instituting its role as the key security agency.
The complete transition was introduced under the Defence Cooperation Programme (DCP) and is set to be instilled with distinctive web security platforms to enhance confidentiality, storage and transfer of Defence information and data.
I felt those fingers search along the inside edges of the pockets by protocol as I turned to check the time on the screen.
A new word document I had opened a few hours ago also stared back at me, still blank.
It was this story I wanted to write but did not know where to start.
I am fascinated by the web, yet it is strange and extremely perilous.
You see there is this hidden hub of the internet known as the Dark Web where shadowy societies roamed freely and anonymously, hidden from the public eye.
It is a world ruled by scammers, predators, thieves and people without faces that feast on unsuspecting people, communities, businesses and nations.
These societies and people exist beneath the surface net or clear net that you access daily using your phone, laptop or office net.
But that is a story for experts to tell.
While thanking DCP, Polewara said it was appropriate that the Defence network operated on a higher frequency with appropriate security provisions in the light of modern web.
He said the transition would also play a major role to assess and plan for cyber security strategies.
A week ago there was more drilling next door to my office. FPB clarified that it was the last bit to install the final pods and upgrade existing network switches along the Department of Defence secretariat corridor where I was located.
The darkness outside was finally fading as I slowly got up from the chair, feeling those fingers crawled back out, mission unsuccessful.
I pity them as I stepped out from behind the desk and headed for the door, ignoring the already cold cup of coffee beside the desktop.
Headquarters PNGDF was allowed to connect to the Cat6 pods last week as IT staff continued their assessment, programming and upgrading of all switches across the new network.
The Cat6 cables reache a data transfer speed (DTS) of 1,000 Megabites (Mbps) to one Gigabite per second or higher while the phasing Cat5 Ethernet cable can handle only up to 10/100 Mbps at a 100 Megahertz bandwidth.
The section is currently rolling out the cables around the First Pacific Island Regiment (1RPIR) headquarters at Taurama Barracks after completing HQ, Force Support Battalion (FSB) and the Force Air Transport Squadron (ATS).
Trainings are also being provided under the same package by DCP in the use and maintenance of this state of art server series and the upgraded network.
Dawn was slowly emerging, repainting the foliage as I stepped out onto the corridor.
The early sounds of traffic along the Hohola road drifted through the air before fading into an orchestra of nightly insects that continued their tuneless carols from the lawn below.
Birds seemed quiet, probably fooled by the delay as I stood there, embracing the cold morning breeze like old friends.
- The author is with the PNGDF Public Relations