eMarine allows cyber security in Marine Corps social network

15 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

In a recent initiative by Headquarters Marine Corps, units that utilize Internet websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have migrated over to a more secure, comprehensive networking outlet specifically for the Marine Corps.

Per Marine Corps Administrative Message 499/11, units and individual Marines and their families are to employ the use of “eMarine” to discuss or provide information about Corps-specific topics.

“At any given time, we can find multiple (operational security) violations on Marines’ or their spouses’ online profiles,” said Lisa Gleason, the project manager for the creation and implementation of eMarine. “A lot of information can be gathered and used adversely, which is why we’re providing a more secure alternative to traditional social media outlets not open to the public.”

eMarine boasts simplicity in its use and navigation of pages and materials when offering such a secure environment for those of the Marine Corps community. Family Readiness Officers are able to release information to family members more expediently, and unit commanders can issue guidance to those in their commands securely and effectively.

Even in its infant stage, eMarine currently has nearly 50,000 users at press time with many more to follow as word of its implementation reaches all Marine Corps units worldwide. However, the blunt of eMarine’s purpose lies in information regarding deployed Marines and how it is distributed among the spouses back at the homefront.

“On occasion, we are able to put together various pieces of information that can reveal a deployed units’ grid coordinates - all from the spouses’ Facebook pages,” said Sean Gilligan, information technician with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “Almost everyone with an Internet connection has online networking tools such as a Facebook profile, but sometimes people aren’t as careful with their information as they should be.”

Beginning as a Marine Corps Forces Pacific initiative, eMarine was offered to Headquarters Marine Corps as an alternative to conventional social networking sites rather than a replacement, due to the Department of the Navy’s authorization of Facebook for unit pages. However, with eMarine on the rise, it is encouraged that previous Facebook pages point users to the new eMarine pages for secure information.

“One of the biggest factors about the eMarine program is how, no matter what unit a Marine is attached to, unit-specific information can be found in the same place on the site,” said Ann Crittenden, branch head for Family Readiness, HQMC. “That standardized look will aid in the Marines and their family members in easily settling into their new units and receiving any needed information.”

The initial push of eMarine is intended to be utilized by all units with funded FROs, having the opportunity to build their pages and attend proper training. Full utilization for initial units is expected to be fulfilled by February 2012, where remaining units will then subscribe in the use of eMarine by that summer.

“Loose lips sink ships, and that’s never more true than in the cyber world,” said George Dentel, family readiness officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force. “Now, through education and awareness along with this new social networking option, the hundreds of thousands spouses and family members will be able to stay involved with their Marines’ units without compromising security. While their Marine is deployed, they will be able to stay empowered by securely staying in contact with the unit FROs and each other.”

While there is national attention on various social media site’s handling of user privacy, eMarine is the counter to such a problem within the operational world of the Corps. Families will be able to be kept up-to-date with their spouses’ unit while the Marines themselves receive information more effectively.