DOD considers prohibiting personal use of networks

The Defense Department is considering a policy that would banish all traffic not proven to be purely official DOD business from its networks, said Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, last week at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s Network Centric Warfare 2008 conference in Washington.

The proposal to ban non-official traffic from the network is intended to increase the network’s security and stability by reducing the number of times malicious software code enters DOD networks, Croom said.

DOD’s consideration of the proposal, however, is in the preliminary stages, and it’s too early to predict if the department will proceed with the idea, Croom said. The rationale for radically revamping DOD’s network usage policies is to find the right balance between encouraging communications and innovation by allowing users to freely share information, while also protecting the security and integrity of DOD systems and information by banning potentially harmful traffic.

In practical terms, the rules are intended to eliminate traffic that’s entering DOD networks as employees surf Web sites that aren’t expressly banned or blocked but that would be difficult to justify as necessary purely for official business, Croom said. DOD hasn’t yet calculated what percentage of the traffic on its networks now violates the rules, he said. Unofficial early estimates, however, are that 70 percent of the traffic on DOD networks today is unofficial and would be banned, said sources close to the department.

John Rendleman writes for Government Computer News, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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