Cohen approves group to scour DOD Web sites

To check the sensitivity of information on Defense Department World Wide Web sites, Defense Secretary William Cohen yesterday approved the creation of a 22-member military reserve unit to scour DOD Web sites for security breaches.

The new team of cyberwarriors, known as the Joint Web Risk Assessment Cell (JWRAC), officially will be formed in March and will be co-located at the Defense Information Systems Agency, Arlington, Va. The cell will monitor DOD Web sites for sensitive information and data that could compromise U.S. military operations or personnel, according to DOD.

"Technology has extended America's reach around the world, and it has extended the reach of those who seek to threaten Americans at home," Cohen said. "The JWRAC will help us defend against those who would turn our technological superiority against us."

In September 1998, some DOD Web sites began removing posted information and documents. It was feared that terrorists might be able to glean revealing and damaging information from the department's estimated 1,000 Web sites. Such information on U.S. forces included home addresses and telephone numbers of officers and troops, specific information about the capabilities of weapons and detailed floor plans of facilities.

In December, the Pentagon issued a Web policy that delegates to DOD component and unit commanders the authority to decide whether a command or unit will maintain a Web site and directs them to ensure all information on the site does not put national security, DOD personnel and assets or individual privacy at "unacceptable" risk.

According to DOD, the JWRAC will be staffed by two full-time reservists and 20 drilling reserve members from the Army Reserve, the Army National Guard, the Naval Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

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