Guarding information is everyone's responsibility
September 8, 2006
It's really very simple. If we keep our information and communications secure lives will be saved. Operational Security and Information Assurance are not just Army programs. They are a mindset that requires the constant attention of every Army officer, enlisted Soldier, civilian employee, contractor and family member.
It was easier to keep a secret when Soldiers carried muskets and marched onto open fields in tight formation. You deployed patrols to ward off scouts, you armed and escorted your messengers and you kept your soldiers out of taverns and away from pretty faces. Today it's a little more complicated.
Technology has given us great communication capabilities. It has also opened the door to eavesdropping and spying opportunities where the enemy can be half a world away and reading or listening in as if he was seated right next to you. Technology has also given us great capabilities in securing our information flow. Firewalls, encryption and PKI have taken over the jobs of patrols and armed messengers on the networked Army of today. There are those who would tell you that technology is the ultimate answer to any security challenges the Army might have. The fact is, in an open environment, that's simply not the case. There is and always will be the human factor.
It's always easy to fall victim to the pressures of deadlines, pressure from higher ranks and civilian leaders. It's faster to cut corners and bypass policies and procedures. It's easy to justify actions that happened "just once." But no break in the IA/OPSEC perimeter is justifiable. There's too much at stake.
If Army personnel ranging from general staff to raw recruits don't follow IA/OPSEC policies and procedures, we will remain vulnerable. The enemy is smart, technically able and, if given an opportunity, will exploit our mistakes. Our cyber and communication defenses are being probed every nano-second from a wide variety of sources: state sponsored intrusions, terrorists and even little Billy next door. The only true protection is human vigilance, and the only person who can ensure that happens is you.