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[] theReg 17.1.03: Rumsfeld orders .mil Web lockdown,

Rumsfeld orders .mil Web lockdown
By Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus Online
Posted: 17/01/2003 at 12:31 GMT

 U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld this week directed the armed=20
service to strip military Web sites of information that could benefit=20
adversaries, citing a terrorist training manual and a year-long review of=20
the Department of Defense's 700-gigabyte Web presence.=20

"An al Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan states: 'Using=20
public sources openly and without resorting to illegal means, it is=20
possible to gather at least 80% of information about the enemy,'" Rumsfeld =

wrote in a memo electronically circulated throughout the armed services.=20
"One must conclude our enemies access DoD Web sites on a regular basis."=20

The Pentagon has long enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the Web,=20
beginning in 1998 when then-deputy defense secretary John Hamre issued a=20
directive that greatly restricted the type of unclassified information=20
defense sites can put online (classified data is not allowed on the=20
Internet). Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Defense=20
Department pulled or pared thousands of additional pages, and established=20
still stricter policies on Web publication.=20

Despite the crackdown , information designated "For Official Use Only," or =

describing operational strategies, plans and standard procedures were=20
found online in violation of policy over 1,500 times in the past year,=20
according to the Rumsfeld memo, first reported by "This =

continuing trend must be reversed," wrote Rumsfeld.=20

"Unpublished addresses (URLs) and unlinked Web pages do not provide=20
security," Rumsfeld wrote.=20

But Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the =

Federation of American Scientists (FAS) says the memo goes too far in=20
ordering defense webmasters to take down any information that could=20
possibly be useful to an enemy.=20

"Almost any information could be useful to an adversary in some context,"=20
says Aftergood. "If that standard is followed, it would lead to a=20
wholesale withdrawal of information from defense Web sites... This is a=20
broad brush approach that's not the right way to go."=20

Aftergood is no stranger to Web self-censorship in the age of terrorism.=20
In the days following September 11, FAS removed some government=20
information from their own pages, including the floor plans for the "Site=20
R" military communications complex buried deep under a mountain in rural=20
Maryland, which reportedly serves as the seat of an emergency "shadow"=20
government. He says he doesn't regret that decision, but that the Pentagon =

has already gone far beyond any practical security concerns in its cuts.=20
"There has to be some consideration given to the importance of public=20
access to information," Aftergood says.=20

Last month the Defense Department endured some ridicule when it was caught =

slowly removing information from the public Web site for its "Total=20
Information Awareness" project, after the project fell under widespread=20
criticism as a threat to privacy. TIA is aimed at some day mining vast=20
quantities of credit, law enforcement, insurance, driving and medical=20
records to spot indications of terrorist preparations in the average=20
American's data trail.=20

=88 SecurityFocus Online

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