What Is a Cross Domain Enterprise Service?

What Is a Cross Domain Enterprise Service

Cross Domain Enterprise Service (CDS) is a secure communications and collaboration platform that connects network domains of differing security levels, offering fast, resilient access to critical information across locations and networks.

The CDS community sets stringent security standards. One such initiative from NSA’s Raise the Bar initiative serves as an exemplar.

Information Assurance

Every organization requires sharing data across international, agency, and classification borders. Cross domain solutions offer secure protection of even the most sensitive information from military to commercial to government intelligence data and beyond.

As the demand for cross domain data sharing grows, engineering quality and assurance of CDSs become ever more essential. In particular, this holds true in the US where NCDSMO sets standards and accreditations for CDSs used by both DoD and Intelligence Community agencies.

NCDSMO certification involves an intensive lab-based security assessment (LBSA), in which every aspect of a device is tested in detail and assessed against stringent criteria. If approved by this evaluation process, then its inclusion on the “Baseline List” – more stringent than certification processes such as Common Criteria EAL.

NCDSMO-accredited CDSs contain functions to filter and transfer data based on access rights, as well as being designed to be independent and non-bypassable to protect systems against compromise through single points of failure or vulnerabilities.

Cross domain solutions boast one of the key benefits of real-time filtering and data transfer: their integration with communication applications enables it to intercept data at its application layer for filtering or inspection, decreasing malware risks while speeding collaboration without jeopardizing information assurance.

Multi-Level Collaboration

Cooperation across multiple security domains can be crucial. For example, users may require transferring files between unclassified networks and classified environments or sharing data across parts of a military complex – this requires using zero-trust solutions that safeguard data securely while inspecting and sanitizing it throughout.

Not only can the best cross domain solutions provide a zero-trust environment, they also enable multi-level collaboration. This may involve synchronous messaging, text chat and white boarding – even offering translation for non-native speakers of languages other than their own – making the user’s transition faster while eliminating redundant tools.

Cross domain solutions allow users to perform unidirectional or bidirectional transfers of data, with content filters for supported data types and multiple protocols to meet various information assurance requirements, including those set forth by the National Cross Domain Strategy and Management Office (NCDSMO).

The NCDSMO provides oversight for CDS development, guidelines for future cross domain technology development and testing programs to ensure cross domain solutions can meet government and defense requirements while protecting classified networks from intrusions.

Bi-Directional Flows

Cross domain solutions extend the advantages of zero-trust by enabling users to access information residing in domains with differing security levels and caveats from one workstation, as well as transfer data without exposing confidential data or risking hacker attacks on systems.

Cross domain solutions are ideal for meeting emerging Federal collaboration standards while eliminating duplicative capabilities, cutting the time required for adaptation to new tools while saving unnecessary expenses. Furthermore, cross domain solutions support XML transfer between systems as well as interoperable compatibility with earlier solutions.

As the Defense Department transitions toward enterprise-wide commercial cloud services, cross domain solutions have become even more vital. They allow DOD components to work from home or other networks while still accessing SIPRNet.

These solutions provide access and transfer solutions for multiple classified domains while creating a secure connection between them, enabling DOD users to collaborate across classification levels from a single workstation as well as remotely access classified networks without risking sensitive data being exposed on personal devices.

To achieve this goal, the solution employs a high-speed guard processor which provides real-time metadata redaction and filtering at line rate, while simultaneously ensuring only valid payloads exit the high-trust zone by performing several checks to validate them before routing them onto a low-side flow control proxy for encryption or routing.


Cross domain solutions allow users to switch seamlessly between platforms, making life easier for military and government teams who must handle information of different classification levels spanning different networks and domains. Cross domain solutions enable this by eliminating duplicative tools in favour of more effective connections resulting in faster outcomes at lower costs.

Cross domain solution vendors offer access and transfer solutions that can be hardware, software or hybrid in nature. Some use FPGAs as physical firewalls that shield data at rest, in transit and use from being compromised or altered or destroyed without authorization from devices, users and processes outside the organization.

For instance, when an unclassified file is transferred into a classified network, cross domain solutions can inspect and sanitize it before entering the system. This prevents hackers from sneaking files in by way of USB drives or physical media; additionally it reduces air gap risks associated with taking portable media out.

Cross domain solutions also boast compatibility with emerging Federal collaboration standards, making the transition faster for users while at the same time guaranteeing appropriate information assurance and protections are in place. Furthermore, cross domain solutions integrate seamlessly with chat tools that already meet security requirements to add classification labels directly into user interfaces for an even safer approach than manually marking messages after transfer in chat applications that involve significant manual effort and can lead to errors.


Government, military, and intelligence applications require information transferred between networks with differing security levels to remain protected at all times; even the smallest data breach could have disastrous results for life and property. Yet moving information across networks exposes it to threats it wouldn’t otherwise face due to being outside its native security ecosystem; for this reason cross domain solutions serve as secure bridges between isolated networks and corporate ones.

CDS systems typically utilize multiple layers of defenses to keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands. Their security functions may include malware protection, data filtering, sanitization and verification as well as hardware-enforced domain separation via data diodes enabling bidirectional flows.

CDS also maximizes results through providing an agile framework to support joint data operations and DevSecOps teams, which enables quick adaptation to changing disciplines while expediting information transfers from lower to higher security classifications.

Cross domain solutions can significantly speed up data exchange by bypassing traditional processes that bog down exchange rates, automating and streamlining these processes to reduce human error risk and enable data to move between networks quickly, reaching multiple end points in far less time than would otherwise be required with traditional means.

CDS provides high-assurance network security solutions designed to prevent data mixing or spills across isolated and corporate networks by performing malware scanning, virus detection and content filtering on all incoming and outgoing traffic. This ensures information flows seamlessly across networks without being exposed to malware or other cyber risks.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.