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Aug 18, 2007

Security awareness success in the US Army

Details of audits of US Army websites and blogs run by soldiers, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that far more security policy breaches occur on official Department of Defense websites than on blogs. The audits were conducted by the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell, a special unit with a remit (evidently) to minimize unauthorized disclosure of sensitive military information via the Web.

It seems to me the Army was absolutely right to highlight the information security risks relating to blogging. I believe the audit results reflect the outcome of a highly successful security awareness program. If this issue had not been addressed so effectively, I'm convinced there would have been far more noncompliance issues, in other words this is a lesson to us all.

In respect of security awareness programs and policy compliance, 'the military' have a significant advantage over most of us in that the workforce is specifically trained to respect authority and follow orders - or at least, that is the classical view. In fact, I understand modern soldiers are increasingly being taught to think for themselves and operate autonomously, albeit within a highly structured (literally 'regimented') operating framework and, when necessary, at gunpoint. The traditional approach to the blogging security issue would presumably have been to send out an order banning blogging. What actually happened was more subtle: Army bloggers were instructed to register their blogs with commanding officers and pre-clear what they publish. 'Blog responsibly' is a rather softer message but the audit results seem to indicate its effectiveness in this situation.