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Service members and civilian Department of Defense employees may find themselves in trouble if they don't know how to or choose not to comply with DoD information assurance and computer network use regulations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

G-6: Keeping the military safe one computer at a time

30 Jan 2009 | Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

You still have an hour left at work with nothing to do, so you begin to search the internet to kill time.  Before you know it, your hour is up, so you shut down your computer and head home. But someone, somewhere is still hard at work, gaining access to your computer through the malicious spyware you inadvertently downloaded by visiting unsecured Web sites.

If you have access to training records or any other files that record Marines’ information on your computer, the hacker just got his hands on every social security number and any other piece of valuable personal information he can use to further his agenda.

The Combat Center’s G-6, the Communications Electronics Division, has been cracking down on Department of Defense employees aboard the base who disregard rules regulations about Navy and Marine Corps Intranet computer security.

“That is how the enemy is going to get a hold of us,” said Debra Cox, an information assurance officer for G-6.  “It’s like opening up a hole that allows hackers to get in.”

Shirley Russell, the IA manager, is responsible for ensuring every employee aboard the base has completed their annual IA training so they are aware of the dangers of misusing an NMCI computer.

“When they take the training they have to pay attention to what is being told,” said Russell, a Rushville, Ind., native. “It is very important for people to realize the risk they pose to the base.”

To find out who is misusing their privileges, the G-6 section aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., will run daily scans throughout the entire NMCI system, searching for illegal software, spyware, rogue machines and viruses. When they discover a computer that is out of regulation, they will send a ticket request to the NMCI employees who work aboard the base with the infected machine.

NMCI and G-6 personnel will then go together to confiscate the computer and search for what was found during the scan.

Aboard the Combat Center lately, there has been a rising number of computers that are being confiscated due to security issues, said Russell. One example of violations occurring recently is not only an IA violation, but also a security breach.

“We are looking for classified information on an unclassified machine,” said Russell. “It happens a lot when Marines get back from a deployment and all their information from the deployment is still on their laptop. They don’t realize that they are not allowed to carry that information on an unclassified machine.”

When classified information is found on an unclassified computer, G-6 personnel must report it through their chain of command at Quantico, which will initiate an investigation and determine if they have to declassify the information.

Russell explained that downgrading information is a long process. 

“We have to track the information back to the originator for [the originator] to determine if the information is still considered classified,” she said.

If the information cannot be downgraded, G-6 personnel must wipe the computer clean of all information before it is returned to its user.

DoD employees must also be aware of what is not allowed to be sent through NMCI e-mail accounts.

“Chainmail is definitely not allowed,” said Russell. “Chainmail is bogging down our network. We end up following the chainmail up the line to who originated it, and inform all the commands of who sent it out or who continued it.”

Rodney Wyss, another MCAGCC IA officer, also warns against opening attachments from unknown senders since they could be malicious spyware.

“These computers are supposed to be used for business or work related surfing only,” said Wyss. “Anything beyond that, they should not be doing it on their work computer.”

Wyss, a Beloit, Wis., native, also advises to pay attention to a Web site extension, even when surfing the internet for work-related information. A Web site extension is the last four digits of a web address. An example would be .gov. When accessing a Web site hosted by a foreign country, there will be a different extension, such as .com.jn, which would be from Japan.

“When someone doesn’t know what they are doing, they could very easily end up on a Web site hosted by China or some foreign country, which isn’t allowed,” he said. “If you’re not sure, ask a supervisor.”

For more information regarding information assurance, contact G-6 at 830-7141. The annual required training is located at our base Web site at http://www.29palms.usmc.mil, under the training tab. Service members must complete the DISA training, and civilians must complete the TWMS training.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms