It is standard practice for new military recruits to receive training on classification of information, the handling of classified information and general security practices. In respect to their assignments the subject of unit/operational communications security (comsec) also addressed within each of the services.
Unfortunately recent experiences in which Russian forces captured private information from the personal cell phone transmissions of military personnel – and then harassed them by sending back versions of that same information – suggest that there is a grave lack of wireless security in respect to personal equipment (including tablet, laptop, cell phone and even gaming device) use. Wireless communications of any sort can disclose an amazing amount of operational military information.
That’s bad enough – but recent news shows that a lack of understanding of communications security can be dangerous at the highest levels of government. As I noted in a recent post, many people in DC still have not grasped the means by which information warfare is conducted on the internet and in social media. Equally concerning is that they may well have no comprehension of exactly how exposed their personnel cell and wireless network usage has become.
To that extent I was sad to see CSI Cyper go off television a season or two ago, the series did a great job of illustrating a host of exposures I’m virtually sure that many folks in Washington don’t appreciate. There is absolutely no doubt that cell phone and wireless networks are increasingly under constant attack by intelligence services of all stripes.
Most recently that threat has become so overriding that the government has even gone public, warning that cellphone-site simulators and other sophisticated wireless surveillance equipment is most definitely being used in Washington D.C.
I have no clue as to whether or not Congresspersons, staff or even Cabinet level officers have been briefed or trained on communications security related to their cell phones and wireless devices. What I do know is that the issue has been a very real one for past Presidents and that their advisors and staff have had serious challenges in getting them to use secure equipment and adhere to security protocols.
The extent to which that issue could become more dangerous is also reflected in a recent news article.
During a period of numerous international negotiations and constantly increasing information warfare, communications security in Washington D.C. becomes as important as it is with military forces engaged in operations in hostile territory. The concern is how many people in senior leadership truly internalize that in an era of “untethered” wireless communications.