U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

Summary: The U.S. Marine Corps has slapped an immediate ban on the use of social networking sites on its network, warning that sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are a "proven haven for malicious hackers and content.


The U.S. Marine Corps has slapped an immediate ban on the use of social networking sites on its network, warning that sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are a "proven haven for malicious hackers and content."

The ban, contained in an order issued Monday, will last for a year.  It specifically mentions Facebook, Twitter and MySpace although it applies to what is described as "Web-based services that allows communities of people to share common interests."

[ SEE: Twitter API ripe for abuse by web worms ]

A few choice quotes from the Marine Corps order:

  • "These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries..."
  • "The very nature of SNS [social network sites] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts OPSEC [operational security], COMSEC [communications security], [and] personnel... at an elevated risk of compromise."

[ SEE: Web worms squirm through Facebook, MySpace ]

CNN reports that the ban was drawn up in response to a late July warning from U.S. Strategic Command, which told the rest of the military it was considering a Defense Department-wide ban on the Web 2.0 sites, due to network security concerns.

Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have been constant targets for malware attacks that exploit the trusted nature of social networks to lure users into clicking on links to malicious sites.

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Networking, Security, Social Enterprise

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Good news...

    It's hard to fathom why this wasn't official policy to begin with. Accessing these services from a personal device attached to a public network is one thing, but from official devices connected to our critical infrastructure is something else entirely.
    • I agree, all armed forces should do it.

      There simply is no reason to allow it.
      • They already do...

        This is already official DOD policy, they now are just enforcing it from what it sounds like. The government entity I am at now have been blocking these types of things since their existence.
    • It doesn't take a genius . . .

      . . . to quickly recognize the the main purpose of almost all social networking sites it to gather very granular, detailed information about individuals naive enough to make that data available. How can it be used? That depends upon what the person who accesses that goldmine wants to use it for. They can use it to build incredibly detailed psychological and sociological profiles of each target individual - who, by the way, can easily be specifically identified and targeted. That is dangerous for every individual user, but has national security implications when applied to our military personnel. Have you ever thought about what all those stupid "tests" tell about you? Your friends may not see all of your answers, but the owners of the database get to profile your innermost thoughts, your weaknesses and your foibles.

      If anyone cannot understand that, maybe they deserve to be exploited . . . but not if they are endangering our national security in the process.
  • RE: U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

    OOOH-RAHH. Yepper, Especially from the on-line Hooker's. I've been getting them off Facebook and Myspace.
  • RE: U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

    I think it is a sad day for the marines who use this tool as a way to keep in constant touch with family and friends back home. Its a way of still being with the real world and, for me, with a friend in Afghanistan, its a way for me to know he is safe.
    Security problems should be addressed with the proper technolgy to combat any problems but should not determine the value that social networking sites have in a marine's life. Its a travesty and a shame!!
    • Perhaps...

      Perhaps a compromise it that they provide kiosks on computers on a
      separate network and not in anyway connected to internal operations,
      that servicemen and women could use while overseas, otherwise, good
      old email still gets the job done right? I mean what is a Marine going to
      Twitter: "On front lines, heavy firefight"?!
      • Actually, yes, that last thing

        They will be twittering on a daily basis the
        'shit' that they get into overseas, and maybe that
        is the real reason why they are trying to ban
        these sites: so that the regular person has no or
        little idea outside of government approved press
        releases what is going on over there.
      • Perhaps...

        They already have those set up at certain commands but the Marine Corps will not fund for an unclassified bulls*** network so kids can log on to Myspace and write their friends/loved ones at home. Waste of government money to fund in another network just to appease the young Marines myspace addiction.
        • I disagree with it being a waste of Gov money to fund another network.

          I do not Facebook, Myspace or Twitter but I am a tax payer that supports their efforts. If giving them the ability to stay in communication with family and friends help them to have some type of sanity then Hurrah. If you are an IT person that supports them make sure you do your job to keep your systems updated and don?t cry because you have to do your job. I am in Gov. IT and it is a constant battle to keep system in compliance but it sure bets the alternative of having to rebuild your network. I have been in the military also, before there was even an internet. I was able to say the same thing in letters just slower, so I don?t think they are trying to keep secrets from getting out. They just don?t want their network compromised.
          • Thats fine..

            and they do already have seperate networks to run something like this. This is about information control and the level of exposure. People are stupid, they are told time and time again to beware of what they let out because it can impact operation security. Ask any servicemember, I was one in the IT field for the Navy. Now that being said, they still can stay in contact with their families via email like they have in the past, that hasnt changed. There is no relevant need for myspace for someone on the frontlines - due to the exposure and wide disemination of information available with the click of a mouse.

            Use your head and think safety and not your liberal bias. THANKS!
  • RE: U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

    I think the security they are talking about is
    informational. It's probably more to do with the innocent tweets, etc. going something like "Hey, 6:02
    here, just got back from our daily survey of the area.
    Nothing interesting today..." or a pic posted showing
    the soldier but in the background there is some piece
    of equipment that just arrived that they (the military) would like to keep quiet as long as

    You would be surprised what information can be gleaned
    from those innocent little messages. While letting
    the forces communicate with their loved ones back home
    is important keeping them alive is more important.

    Bad situation all around.

    • U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

      I believe this is the main reason as well. I believe Marines, and service personnel in general are security concience. However, when your their in the thick of things, you are not always thinking of your surroundings and what information your adversaries can glean from an innnocent conversation or picture. Remember, it may not be all telling in that one thing, but get many of them, and you can piece things together.

      The big picture is, if you have a single soldier (Soldier, Marine, squid or zoomy) saying or showing something in itself innocent, probably no big deal. Now have a 100 or a 1000 doing this, becomes a big deal. It is the same principle as social engineering on an individual, but magnifyed to provide operational intelligence.
  • RE: U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

    From what the article said they aren't banning you from the websites, they are banning your from using them during working hours on a government machine. You can still keep in touch with your friend, just not at work.
    • Read it all

      All I know is what was in the article, and it said, "The U.S. Marine
      Corps has slapped an immediate ban on the use of social
      networking sites on its network"

      No machines were mentioned, the ban is on the use of the

    They are NOT banning Marines from these websites entirely. They are banning them from accessing the sites at work, nothing more. And to be quite honest, they would not have to ban any website if the Net Admins were doing their job on these networks. They know what sites people are going to, they block these sites using their proxy... guess what, go in to internet options and unclick the proxy.... free reign. They can still see what sites you are going to and I have yet to see a single Marine get punished for accessing these social networking sites. If Net Admins report that "soso Marine went to Myspace today knowing he wasnt suppose to." That Marine would feel stupid and tell his Marine friends, who in turn would not log on because they dont want to be punished. Chain reaction, have to crack a few eggs to make an omellette.
    • Depends on where you were

      I have seen a Marine get charged and punished for accessing a Social Networking Site for content he published on that site. It was against Information or Operation Security but severly deragatory comments towards his supervisors. As far as the proxy thing, the Marine Corps doesn't use that, they use a web filter at the base level and at the highest level, as all connections traverse through one locale.

      Honestly, it was a matter of time before this happened.
    • Actually...

      ...if they force all of the "government network" systems to be "user level" and (if they're using Windows) apply a group policy that blocks these sites, they wouldn't have to put it in writing. They just create a policy and push it down to all systems.

      I call out Windows in this case because my understanding of Linux is that it doesn't support network administrator controled group policies.

      It's about time they put it in writing, now if we could only get those idiots in congress to stop tweeting and actually do the job they were elected to do the country would be on it's way to being a better place.

      Semper Fi!
      • That's What We Do At Work

        Sometimes the admins are overzealous and work-critical sites get blocked too. Then we have to appeal with a business need justification.
  • RE: U.S. Marines ban Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

    Also, most Marines will have an Email account so they CAN write home, with additional support for possible Video Teleconference in certain locations. Marines not getting to facebook, myspace, twitter is a small deal. Marines coming home alive, that's a big deal.