Pentagon needs to take closer look at social networking, Gates says

DOD wants to be linked in to the world, but must be wary of compromising operational security

Top Defense Department officials, noting the importance social networking has played in detailing events surrounding Iran’s disputed elections, acknowledge that the Pentagon needs to take a closer look at social media technologies.

“This department, I think, is way behind the power curve in this; it's an area where I think we have a lot of room for improvement,” said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, speaking to reporters at a Pentagon news conference last week.


More on this topic from FCW:

DOD: Be wary of social media's 'loose lips'


“How do we communicate better with [young people]?” Gates asked. “How do we get reactions from them to things that we're doing? How do we get better plugged in with what they're thinking?”

The answer to those questions, in Gates’ view, is to harness social media to enable DOD reach out to the world.

“For leaders ... it's really important to be connected to [social networking tools] and understand it,” said Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noting that he has his own Facebook page. “I think communicating that way and moving information around that way—whether it's administrative information or information in warfare — is absolutely critical.”

While the lure of the social networking is increasing, the phenomenon is not without risk. Jack Kiesler, chief of cyber counterintelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, cited participation in online discussion groups or blogs by DOD employees or contractors as one avenue foreign intelligence services could use to single out disgruntled military or intelligence agency employees, who then could be recruited or blackmailed.

In addition, according to Kiesler, foreign agents seeking to steal stealth technology might start by trying to identify individuals—via social media profiles—who are working on the technology: figuring out whom they associate with, following their movements, looking for clues about new research and development and so on.

Kiesler noted that an "Intelligence Professionals" group exists today on the social media site LinkedIn.com, and that 163 LinkedIn members listed the Defense Intelligence Agency as their current employer.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group