The Air Force has had it with soldiers getting their information from the unsavory world of blogs. The service's Network Operations Center has instituted widespread filtering of the Web, blocking all sites with the letters b-l-o-g in their URLs and filtering out most other sites that qualify as blogs, Wired relates, via an Air Force Times story.
The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said. "Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.
Wired's Noah Shachtman reports that there's a strong contingent of opposition to the lockdown policies.
When I hear stuff this utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.... Piles of torn out hair are accumulating around my desk as we speak," one senior Air Force official writes in an e-mail. "I'm certain that by blocking blogs for official use, our airmen will never, ever be able to read them on their own home computers, so we have indeed saved them from a contaminating influence. Sorry, didn't mean to drip sarcasm on your rug."
But according to retired Air Force Col. Tom Ehrhard, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, blogs do present a security risk.
It is increasingly clear that active exploitation could take advantage of airmen and civilians who want to inform and correct the often outrageous, false assertions on these blogs. In doing so, it is easy for well-meaning insiders to violate operational security (OPSEC) tenets, either directly or tangentially. ... This policy strikes me as a timely reminder to Air Force professionals that they should be on guard when blogging, because someone is watching.
Ars Technica reported back in August that an audit of online security risks found that bloggers actually posed much less of a threat than the Army's own web personnel.
The 10-person AWRAC found that ... only 30 violations were found on 594 blogs monitored between January of 2006 and January of 2007. Comparatively, official military web sites contained 3,900 [operational security policy] violations.