Photo Information

Service members and Department of Defense employees read a slide about personal media during an information assurance training class at the base theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, recently. IA training is conducted annually and is required per Marine Corps Base Order 5239.2 for everyone who has access to the government network.

Photo by Cpl. Jo Jones

Information Assurance aboard Camp Lejeune

27 Oct 2010 | Cpl. Jo Jones

With today’s increasing usage of social media websites and advanced e-mail capabilities, Internet users all over the world now have easier access to security plans, personal information and explicit images.

In the military world, a security breach could mean the difference between life and death, and Department of Defense personnel who leak this information – inadvertently or intentionally – could face serious consequences.

To combat this issue, professional information technicians with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are taking proactive measures to safeguard against violators, and to disseminate, educate and train everyone who works and lives aboard the base about information assurance.

“Information assurance is the (trio) of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information,” said Carolyn B. Harrison, the information assurance manager with MCB Camp Lejeune.  “That is what we protect and defend.  We make sure that the information the military needs to perform its duties, which covers everything from food, ammunition, logistics and administration, is protected.”

IA violations can include anything from e-mailing personal information such as social security numbers in an unencrypted email to accessing pornographic material on the government network.  Harrison said the majority of the offenses occur when DOD personnel are conducting daily, routine activities.  She said leaving a common access card unaccompanied in a government computer in a public office setting is the most common mistake people make.

“The danger is if somebody sits at your computer and does anything on (it), then you’re responsible for that action,” said Harrison.  “If they go to a site that is inappropriate and charges are brought up, the person who has the CAC is held responsible.”

“The CAC has a two-factor identification – you have to have it, and you have to know the pin,” continued Harrison.  “Because if somebody sits down at that machine and tries to do something and doesn’t know the pin, he just locked the individual out.  That person might actually try to call and get it unlocked so it won’t be detected that he tried to attempt this.  When that happens, both individuals are at fault.”

Harrison said service members who are deployed overseas in combat zones are especially susceptible to jeopardizing national security.

“When you send information back as you’re chatting with your family members online or on the phone, phones aren’t always secure, and you need to be careful about what information you pass such as where you’re located, how many people there are and what activities are going on,” said Harrison.  “Saying or posting things like, ‘I’ll be home on this day,’ or ‘We’re leaving on this day,’ is troop movement.  To you, you’re keeping your family informed, but when your family is excited and they start to mention where you are and things that are going on, before you know it, it’s on the news, and then the information is out there.”

Harrison said offenders could risk losing their jobs and face anything from written reprimands to courts-martial, depending on the severity and intent of the violations. 

Although there are currently established programs and tools set in place to detect violations and monitor appropriate usage on the government network, Harrison said information assurance ultimately depends on the individual.

“Information assurance should be everybody’s business,” said Harrison.  “It’s important to your professional life, and it affects your personal life.”

Everyone on MCB Camp Lejeune who is granted access to the government network must submit a completed IA certificate with their system authorization access request form. 

“Everybody on this base gets training because they are going to have access to the network,” said Harrison.  “The network is only as strong as its weakest link.”

IA is also a mandatory annual training requirement, per Marine Corps Order 5239.2.  It is available online, on compact disks, and IA experts aboard the base give annual training presentations to units and individuals who require it.  Harrison said IA experts are willing to conduct training for anybody at any time; they just have to call and make appropriate arrangements.

Cpl. Nathan Allen, a brig guard with Brig Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune, recently went through IA training at the base theater.  He said the training was very valuable and shows people how to be professional at all times.

“I learned that you have to be careful about what you’re doing on the computer because you never know who is watching you,” said Allen.  “Use your work computer for work only.”

Harrison said the training not only informs people about safe practices and violations, but it also encourages them to be proactive safety officers.  She encourages everyone who witnesses violations to report them.

For more information about information assurance training or to report violations, email or call the Customer Support Center at 451-1019.