After blogging about an increase in Australian employers blocking social network access it is refreshing to see a more positive trend.
Certain U.S. Army bases, that formerly blocked access to Web 2.0 sites, now permit users to surf to sites such as Facebook and Flickr. The Army has ordered its network managers to give soldiers access to social media and thereby reversing a years-long trend of blocking web 2.0 sites on military networks.
SCMagazineUS.com interviewed Marcus Sachs, director of the SANS Internet Storm Center and a retired Army officer, who says, “It’s a recognition that soldiers are using Facebook and Twitter as part of their jobs, not just for recreation.”
Sachs explains that the decision to allow social networking sites requires a balance between allowing technology that the soldiers are familiar with and want to use versus the concerns related to social network sites. Sachs says ”Keeping these sites blocked is a good defense to keep networks free of malware infection, but such a move cuts down on how efficient soldiers can be.” Sachs also points out that confidential data leakage is another concern that will be tackled by educating soldiers how to appropriately use social networking sites.
This order is truly a step in the right direction. Not only does the army recognize soldiers’ need to communicate with family and friends but also the efficiency issues arising when blocking Internet access. As clearly indicated there are several issues that may arise by providing access to social media sites. However, most of these can be tackled by educating soldiers (or workforce) on what is accepted and what is not and ensure online privileges are used as intended. Hopefully more government, educational and commercial organizations will follow suit.
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