Experts: Social media here to stay

DOD expects review to lead to balanced policies, not a ban

A review weighing the benefits and risks of social-networking technology at the Defense Department is expected to conclude this month. A DOD spokesman said he expects the review to recommend a balanced approach to using social-networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter. A policy that permits the use of the technology with some restrictions is the likely outcome, he said.

A balanced policy is wise because an outright ban wouldn’t work, according to several experts.

Attempting to completely block the technology within DOD would be futile, said Amit Yoran, chief executive officer of NetWitness and the former director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and National Cybersecurity Division of the Homeland Security Department.

“What experience has taught us in this industry is that users will bypass over-draconian and overly restrictive policies that you may impose on them,” Yoran said. “It may be the users actively doing it, it may be the social-media sites getting creative and finding ways to encapsulate and tunnel and do all these things that allow folks to bypass the protective measures and policies that we put in place.”

The next step for DOD and other federal agencies should be to identify how personnel should use the emerging technology, said Grant McLaughlin, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton.

“We need to collectively move the new technologies from being viewed as a toy — and move them more to a useful tool,” McLaughlin said. “I think we’ve reached a critical mass of people who believe in the potential of these technologies, but we now have to determine how to turn that potential into actual results that help these agencies better achieve their missions.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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