Defence fortifies open source MediaWiki

Source code availability allows in-house customization

Made famous by the venerable Wikipedia online encyclopedia, the open source MediaWiki collaborative content system has found a bunker inside the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), which is now looking to improve its functionality.

DSTO's Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Division (C3ID) has implemented "divisional wiki pages" to provide open information sharing amongst its staff.

A wiki allows people to edit Web pages online from within the browser which facilitates collaborative information storage. More recently, enterprises have adopted wikis for use in place of more traditional knowledge management applications.

According to DSTO documents, the C3ID wiki began as an amalgamation of two information portals and has now developed to a stage where the assistance of a professional IT specialist in this area is required to "maximize its functionality".

Such functionality enhancements will include additional content and the introduction of a software access control model.

With an annual budget of $440 million and more than 2300 staff, the DSTO chose the open source MediaWiki for its internal wiki, which is freely available under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).

The main objectives of the project include the delivery of a set of designated documents installed into the C3IDWiki in PDF and wiki mark-up, development of meta data tags and abstracts constructed and installed into the C3IDwiki along with links to associated uploaded documents, a set of designated forms loaded into the wiki, ad hoc advice to wiki users, and development of an extended access control mechanism for the C3IDWiki system.

Overall, the requirement is set for about 400 hours of work.

Given an access control model definition based on the basic Bell-LaPadula model, the developer will be required to construct necessary scripts and control files for MediaWiki to implement the access control model.

The project will also extend the access control model so that both a mandatory access control model and access control lists for individuals may be optionally implemented in MediaWiki on a Namespace and article basis.

While not obliged to release any modifications to MediaWiki code base if it is not redistributed, the DSTO did not state whether any enhancements would be contributed to the mainstream project.

The project is scheduled to commence in January 2008.

Do you have any questions or comments about this story? Please e-mail Rodney Gedda at

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