Security survival training

The pace of development in information technology has so altered the security landscape that training has become a matter of survival, according to the Army's chief information officer.

"There is absolutely no way that we can keep up with this technology if we don't invest in training," said Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's CIO and director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers.

But if the increasing use of technology is the problem, it is also a solution.

The Army this year plans to issue top-of-the-line computers and Internet access to as many as 6,000 carefully selected recruits in an effort to bolster its training and education programs. The effort is part of a larger program that makes more than 1,044 IT and security-related courses available to more than 200,000 Army students each year through the Internet and CD-ROMs. The Army offered samples of some of those CD-ROM-based courses, developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency's Information Assurance program, to attendees at the recent Directors of Information Management 2000 Conference. They are available to any DOD agency through DISA's Infosec Education, Training, Awareness and Products Branch, which develops and coordinates a DOD-wide information security training program.

A major part of that program includes about 10 different CD-ROM- and video-based awareness courses on information assurance and security.

One of the products featured at the conference, a 30-minute introductory video, outlines some of the security issues surrounding Internet activity and the security threats posed by cell phones and fax machines. The Army also passed out two CD-ROMs that offer security auditors and system administrators a comprehensive look at how to identify threats, isolate intrusions and coordinate responses with other defense agencies.

The following is what you'll find in those courses. For more information, visit the DISA Infosec World Wide Web site at or DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Network at

Magnificent Discretion

This four-part video takes a light-hearted look at some common-sense precautions that all information workers should take during the course of their daily routines.

For example, the first segment urges personnel to be discreet about their professional identities when participating in Internet chat forums at home. "Kyle," whom the video describes as somebody who is passionate about his work and often takes it home, "knows that others can build a profile of him and his interests based on his Web surfing patterns."

In another segment called "Bits and Pieces," information workers are warned that "spies will try almost anything in pursuit of information" and that "even the most bumbling and inept spy can achieve success by accessing the desired information on a computer." Bits and pieces of information, the video warns, can be used to build a more in-depth picture of sensitive information.

The Future

Many different agencies within DOD, including the National Guard Bureau, are developing their own training courseware and CDs. But that's about to change. In May DOD will deliver to Congress a plan for the next generation of standards-based distributed learning that will give rise to computer-based training modules that will be more "accessible, interoperable, portable and reusable," according to Robert Downes, executive secretary for DOD's Advanced Distributive Learning Initiative.

Through this program, the Pentagon will be able to take content from CDs, such as those reviewed here, and other applications and reuse it across the entire enterprise. This will ensure that courses are written by verifiable experts and will eliminate the need for units to rewrite their own courses.

"The intent is to be very engaging," said Lt. Cmdr. Rick Blunt, deputy director of learning technologies in the office of the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "If it's done correctly, training can be done one-third faster and one-third cheaper."


Magnificent Discretion

This four-part video takes a light-hearted look at some common-senseprecautions that all information workers should take during the course oftheir daily routines.

Auditors and Evaluators

The CD offersan interactive, multimedia tour of the basics of information assurance andcomputer crime.

System Administrator

"System Administrator Incident Preparation & Response for Windows NT," Version 1.1, is a more technical look at the securitythreats facing the average government network.

Main story:

DOD uses video, CD-ROMs to teach security

For more information,visit the DISA Infosec World Wide Web site at or DOD'sAdvanced Distributed Learning Network at

BY Dan Verton
Mar. 27, 2000

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