Computer Banner Balances Security, Privacy Considerations
American Forces Press Service
June 2008 – A new notice on Defense Department
computer screens ensures users understand that their
e-mails are subject to monitoring, but also reinforces
specific user privacy and confidentiality protections, a
senior defense official said.
The new language represents the first change since 1997 to
the “notice and consent” banner that appears each time
a user logs onto a Defense Department network or
information system. Similar changes were made to DoD’s
information system user agreement.
While clarifying the scope of the Defense Department’s
authorized monitoring of its networks and information
systems, the revised language preserves the privacy and
confidentiality of certain types of privileged
communications, according to John G. Grimes, the
department’s chief information officer.
“These changes to the banner and user agreement language
help clarify the user's understanding of the broad nature
of DoD's authorized monitoring practices, while
simultaneously reaffirming DoD's commitment to respecting
and protecting important private and confidential
communications that are guaranteed for its personnel,”
“Privileged” communications between Defense Department
users and their attorneys, clergy or psychotherapists
receive additional protections against monitoring.
“Although DoD has a long history of respecting such
privileged relationships, the previous banner language did
not expressly identify this protection for the user,”
Grimes said. “For the first time ever, the DoD banner
and user agreement now specifically addresses these
The new banner notifies users that their systems may be
monitored for purposes including “penetration testing,
COMSEC (communications security) monitoring, network
defense, quality control, and employee misconduct, law
enforcement and counterintelligence investigations.”
It also includes a paragraph clarifying that passwords,
access cards, encryption and biometric access controls are
used to provide security for the benefit of the government
– not to provide personal privacy to employees.
A shorter notice will appear on government BlackBerry
devices and other personal digital assistants and personal
Grimes emphasized that the new language clarifies
longstanding DoD policy and practice. The revised banner
will ensure all users of government computer systems
understand the limited privacy protections, officials
Defense Department officials said monitoring is critical
in ensuring government systems aren’t compromised by
viruses or hackers, and to identify threats as early as
possible. “In order to protect DoD information systems,
DoD needs to be able to monitor all traffic flowing
through and across DoD systems,” an official said.
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Safety Hits Hot Button with Military Shoppers
– In the past six months, four Army & Air Force Exchange Service
(AAFES) electronic suppliers have issued recalls on notebook computer
batteries. Furthermore, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
is aware of at least 47 incidents involving smoke or fire associated
with notebook computers, from January 2001 through August 2006.
Soldiers and Airmen regularly work with the latest technology
available,” said AAFES’ Quality Assurance Director Joan Scheffler.
“Because of their comfort level, AAFES sells a lot of hi-tech
merchandise and is generally affected by most industry-wide alerts.”
more than 200,000 notebook computers sold to military shoppers since
2004, AAFES, in conjunction with CPSC, offers the following tips to
encourage the safe use of notebook computers and batteries:
- Do not use incompatible computer
batteries and chargers. If unsure about whether a replacement
battery or charger is compatible, contact the product
- Computer batteries can get hot
during normal use. Do not use your computer on your lap.
- Do not use your computer on soft
surfaces, such as a sofa, bed or carpet, because it can restrict
airflow and cause overheating.
- Do not permit a loose battery to
come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys or
- Do not crush, puncture or put a
high degree of pressure on the battery as this can cause an
internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.
- Avoid dropping or bumping the
computer. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can
potentially cause damage to the computer and battery. If you
suspect damage contact the manufacturer.
- Do not place the computer in areas
that may get very hot.
- Do not get your computer or battery
wet. Even though they will dry and appear to operate normally, the
circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.
- Follow battery usage, storage and
charging guidelines found in the user’s guide.
- Regularly check the AAFES website
to view the latest product recalls and alerts relevant to PX/BX.
than 40 AAFES associates provide troops and their families the world
over with the highest level of customer protection through a combination
of five broad programs: Inspection, Supplier Quality Assistance, Product
Testing and Analysis, Social Responsibility and Food and Drug Safety. As
a result, AAFES’ team of technicians, veterinarians, inspectors and
even a graduate gemologist have visibility of products from assembly
line to check out.
AAFES Quality Assurance team defines quality in terms of “fitness for
use;” i.e., if an item is not fit for intended use, then it is not a
quality item. Anything that adversely affects appearance,
serviceability or salability of an item is considered a defect. “Safety
of an item is an integral part of quality because if an item is not safe
to use, it is not fit for use,” said Scheffler.
merchandise in AAFES’ stock assortment is identified as unsafe, the
Quality Assurance team immediately issues a recall or alert in
conjunction with federal agencies. All product recalls and alerts
relevant to AAFES are posted and archived online at http://www.aafes.com/pa/news/QA_Recalls.htm.
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Computer attacks, threats continue
by Senior Master Sgt. Alan
805th Communications Support Squadron
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- Government
computers and official information are subject to a
wide range of threats and vulnerabilities that are a
constant, invisible threat to penetrate military
networks and degrade warfighting abilities.
Along with those nameless,
faceless hostile enemies there is also a threat from
simple computer hobbyists experimenting with readily
available free software to detect and exploit
security holes in operating systems, e-mail and
New attacks against computer
systems occur nearly as fast as software vendors can
produce security patches. Computer hackers analyze
each new generation of security patches to determine
how previous security vulnerabilities were
By doing this, these computer
hackers have frequently found new vulnerabilities to
exploit. Once hackers identify new vulnerabilities,
they use the Internet to spread the word to others
on how to exploit these defense weaknesses. Hacker
groups even distribute free software tools that
could be highly effective in attacks against
including Microsoft, continue to stay ahead of the
hackers, but virus-development time is becoming
shorter, so new protective measures must be
developed to avoid network catastrophes.
If malicious individuals are
unable to break through network firewalls to launch
an attack, they often try to bypass the strongest
defenses by attaching viruses to e-mail messages to
gain access to the "inside."
As recently as July, a hacker
sent out e-mails that advised recipients to visit a
phony "Windows-Update" Web site and download a
security patch. When users did as instructed, their
computers secretly passed control to the e-mail
originator, who then hijacked their computers to
send spam e-mails as well as establish pornographic
Web sites on the captured computers. Other e-mails
have contained hidden instructions that exploit
unprotected aspects of computers.
To protect computers, users
need to ensure they are running antivirus software
with current virus-definition files. These files can
be checked by "right-clicking" the computer mouse
pointer on the antivirus program icon on the
taskbar. That will open the antivirus program
information page. If the date of the virus
definition file is older than 10 days or if users
must manually run "live update" to get new
antivirus-definition files, contact the workgroup
managers for assistance.
Workgroup managers can help
configure computers to automatically keep
virus-definition files current. Maintaining
antivirus software and deleting suspicious e-mail
attachments or Web links from unknown sources,
greatly reduces the chance the computer might become
a target or virus host.
Users need to pay close
attention to the latest virus warnings and requests
for system updates. The virus creators are very
smart and can readily hunt out unpatched computers
computer-defensive postures is available from
workgroup managers or wing information-assurance
offices in the communications squadron. (Courtesy of
Air Mobility Command News Service).