Intelligence: Stymied By Better Security

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October 19, 2006: The war on terror has produced an increased attention to Internet security. This is, in some cases, leading to not much security at all. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense has, since September 11, 2001, pulled millions of pages of information off the Internet. That has made it more difficult for troops, and civilians working for the Department of Defense, to do their job. Fortunately, some material can be found on servers in foreign countries, like Russia or China. Those who are willing to dig for the missing information, can usually find it. But those who depended on being able to easily find the information, for professional purposes (to become better soldiers), now have a harder time of it.

Another problem is the increasing Department of Defense restrictions on the use of Internet message boards for the exchange of information by troops and civilians. These message boards are very convenient, and facilitate all manner of communication. But if some of the civilian contractors you are dealing with do not have the proper security clearances, they cannot even get on the new, classified, message boards. The growing tendency to "when in doubt, classify it," means that it's increasingly difficult to work on some projects, if are forced to go to civilian contractors who don't have security clearances. This is especially the case with software development. Getting security clearances for contractors takes months, or longer (there's a large backlog). This means that "quick" projects don't get done. That's because the people who can do the work can't get security clearances in time, and by the time such clearances were obtained, the need for the project would be past. This situation drives Department of Defense software managers nuts, because they just get yelled at for not being able to deliver, or relying on programmers with clearances, but with out the skills required to get the job done. Since no one wants to take on the security establishment, all the delays and communications foul-ups are simply blamed on "technical problems." But this is a case of self-inflicted "technical problems."

 


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