Letter: Bans don’t work

Regarding “DOD considers prohibiting personal use of networks”: The Defense Department probably has a better case than most enterprises for banning non-necessary network traffic. But it's a truism of information security that any type of ban inevitably results in the spawning of workarounds by those who need or want access to the resources they are being denied. Further, blanket bans inevitably result in frustrating the ability of some within an organization to carry out legitimate work.

Although exception procedures might be put into place, where these are even slightly onerous, the result is that the work that is impeded simply does not get done. Does DOD really intend to force an analyst, for example, to obtain permission and a special code to access a terrorist Web site in the course of an urgent investigation? What if the analyst decided that doing so was too much trouble?

It is nearly always impossible for a policy-maker in any organization to be able to specify exactly what network traffic is "legitimate" and what is not because the work environment is rarely simple enough to submit to high-level heuristics.

A more workable goal for DOD might be to reduce the amount of unnecessary exposure to external threats by setting policy and training employees in the importance of adhering to it, while establishing rational sanctions that would apply in cases of violations.

Anonymous


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