This week it was announced via this message that access to social networking sites (such as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter) was officially banned on NIPRNET, the Marine Corps enterprise network.
While use of these sites had not been banned across the Marine Corps prior to this announcement, there were already many facilities for which access was restricted or denied. Additionally, concerns continue regarding the security breaches that could be caused by allowing access to these sites. The sites have had many security issues as use increased; just today, Twitter reported a denial of service attack, in which a hacker accessed documents that should have been secure. Given the sensitive nature of the information accessible through NIPRNET, this seems like a necessary step, until such time that cyber-security measures can catch up with the sites and tools available.
It has been noted that there may still be some use of social networking sites, for recruiting or communication with families, for example. With official approval processes in place, there will be increased control over how sites are used, and access will be much more secure. Additionally, steps have been taken to provide approved, secure, DOD-only social networking sites for use by soldiers, employees, and military families.
Considering the risks to secure, classified information, and the efforts by the Marine Corps to provide alternative social networking solutions for soldiers and employees, this policy change seems justified.
Whether or not other military branches will follow suit remains to be seen.
What do you think? Is it appropriate to ban use of social-networking sites? Do you think this will lead to improved security for NIPRNET? Leave a comment and let us know!