Naval Interest: Up date 2/10/2015
Sailors, Marines, Guardians,
GET A GRIP ON THOSE "I PHONES"
|Sailors & Media Observe Ghost Swimmer Vehicle Test. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III.
"Loose Lips Sink Ships", Loose I Phones Have Now Destroyed Aircraft
Editor's note: We ran this several years ago, as far as we can tell by reports of similar incidents there have been some serious communications security improvements since. But this a story and advice worth repeating periodically.
American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD
We wish that all members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine were members of the U.S.Naval Institute and avid readers of their monthly PROCEEDINGS. Unfortunately we are all too aware that this is not the case. Frequently the PROCEEDINGS carries maritime news of national consequence entirely missed by the national media. The May 2012 issue carries a story titled "Technology's Hidden Dangers" by frequent contributor Norman Friedman on page 162. In this article Mr. Friedman recounts a recent under reported event in Afghanistan. As reported in the article four new attack helicopters were delivered to a U.S. base, the location of which had apparently been unknown to the Taliban. Military personnel photographed the technologically advanced air craft and posted the pictures on the Internet. The air craft frames apparently were not "classified". A short time after the pictures were posted the Taliban destroyed the air craft in a mortar attack.
Apparently the service members had used smart phones to take the pictures. Smart phones generally incorporate GPS receivers and they automatically tag their photos with GPS locations. As a veteran of active duty in the days before personal computers/ smart phones , I have a deep appreciation of the morale benefit to our troops of these devices. Military journals are full of stories where these personal devices have proven to be of benefit in emergency and even combat situations for our service members. I certainly don't want to see their use curtailed. However all service members need to seriously consider the near complete lack of privacy on the Internet and curb their I phone and other Internet usage accordingly.
As the case described in this month's PROCEEDINGS article illustrates merely abstaining from photographing or discussing classified information is not enough. Communications security is vital in combat and law enforcement operations and there is a lot of unclassified but none the less critical information out there. We hope all of our naval interest readers who are in uniform, or accompanying those who are in uniform into the field or fleets, will consider the following suggestions:
1. Never use your I phone in combat unless you are already under fire and for some reason it becomes your only way to call for back up.
2. Don't discuss ship movements, base locations, equipment arrivals' or anything else remotely thought to be "sensitive" even if not "classified" on any wireless medium except DOD provided secure sources' and then only if it is part of your job to do so. When in doubt consider the information "sensitive".
3. Buy a digital camera and restrict the building of your military career photo album to a camera only camera and avoid the use of your I phone camera under any sensitive circumstances .Print your pictures and surface mail photos to family if your photos contain any on base, or on ship scenes unless those ship scenes are pretty old and can't give away the ship's position any longer (remember the automatic GPS tagging feature).
If you routinely used surface mail your pictures always would be a bit aged and it would be much harder for anyone to compromise any inadvertently sensitive information associated with them.
4. Always consider the Internet and all wireless means of communication as an "insecure" method of communications even if using an encrypted program.
5. Commanding officers should consider designating a photographer for certain events that the troops would consider worthy of special remembrance but taking place where some sensitive information may be in view, and carefully review and time the release of these photos to the troops while prohibiting the use of private cameras in such areas.
6. Personal communications security is every one's job, don't let it become no one's job. What is at stake is not only force security but the continued wide spread availability of modern personal communications technology to our deployed troops. Commanding Officers, Executive Officers, Command Master Chiefs and Command Sargent Majors should take the lead in educating the crew and troops to the issue. The continued availability of personal and instant communications with the family are a critical aspect of modern deployment. But if the technology can not be controlled operational security will ultimately require restricted access.