Marines Ban Social Networking

I’m sure you heard about this last week, but I thought it would be fitting for a Monday post, where I try to concentrate on social networking. This piece form the WSJ blogs sums it all up.

Nothing to really do with monitoring this time around, but it doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be aware of how their kids are using social networks. It should also call to attention the fact that if the military deems social networks a security risk, how much freedom will you give your child on them before you start paying attention.

PC Pandora computer monitoring software will help you keep your kids safe online…

August 5, 2009
Marines Ban Facebook and MySpace, Pentagon Considers It

The U.S. Marines Corps, citing security concerns, has banned Facebook, MySpace and Twitter on its network, and the Pentagon said it is reviewing social-networking sites as it considers setting broader policies on their use.

The Marine ban formalizes an existing block on social-networking sites on its government computers, and it does not affect members’ personal use of the sites.

“These Internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user-generated content and targeting by adversaries,” it said in a memo. “The very nature of social-networking sites creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage,” heightening security risks. Marines will be able to apply for waivers for “mission-critical” needs, it noted.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed and a little surprised, in that they’re making a decision based on security, but they haven’t asked us for any kind of briefing” on existing security measures, said Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman. “No one would suggest cutting off postal service to men and women overseas, but what they’re proposing is the 21st-century equivalent.”

Representatives from MySpace and Twitter didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Virtually every branch of the military has avidly promoted social media in recent months as a way of connecting with its members, prospective recruits and other young people. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has 4,501 Twitter followers (a recent tweet, on Sunday, is a response to a colleague).

Gen. David Petraeus has more than 6,800 Facebook fans, and other military leaders use the sites to share updates and photos with the public.

Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn has ordered a review of the pros and cons of social-media sites to be completed by the end of the month. “We’re addressing the challenges from a security standpoint, but also the impact and the value that they have to the department to be able to communicate in a 21st century environment,” Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, told the American Forces Press Service.

There are currently no department-wide bans, he said. “But as a department, we recognize the importance of taking a look at this issue, because there are legitimate security concerns.”

A debate is in full swing on the U.S. Army’s Facebook page, where commenters are responding to an article posted about the news. “I see OPSEC [operations security] violated on social networking sites almost every time I see them, so good on this note,” Sean Corcoran wrote. Other commenters also applauded the Marines’s move or said it won’t hinder anyone with a personal laptop.

But others said the sites serve an important role for soldiers stationed away from home. “We need this outlet. Sometimes this is the only way for friends or family to find out how we are doing on a deployment,” Richard Foreman wrote.

On the Army’s official blog, Army Live, Lindy Kyzer added to the discussion. “As a public affairs operator living in the Web 2.0 world, I’d love to see access to all social networking sites, on every government computer out there,” she wrote. “But, I’m a realist, rather than an optimist, and understand that we live a careful balance between wanting our soldiers to tell their story (read that again – yes, we want our soldiers to tell their story) and between needing to keep operations security (and therefore, our network’s security) paramount.”


2 Responses to “Marines Ban Social Networking”

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    [...] year the Marines made news when they announced they had banned social networks: Marines Ban Social Networking. The story mentions the fact that at the time the Pentagon was wrestling with how to allow armed [...]

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