Lynn Talks Social Media, New DoD Policy at Facebook HQ

4 mins read

fbDeputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn yesterday visited the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto, Calif., to discuss how the Department of Defense and high-tech companies can better collaborate.

“You’re very much a part of our world,” Lynn told Facebook employees in the company cafeteria. “We’re also very much a part of your world. We use social media just as other organizations do. It’s a critical element for us.”

Lynn said his department depends on social media for recruiting so the  services can reach young people.

“That’s the demographic we’re trying to reach,” he added, “and we would be depriving ourselves of the best and the brightest if we didn’t use social media.”

In addition to hiring new talent, social media can also be used to bridge families separated by war and deployment, the deputy secretary said.

“With over 230,000 children whose parents are deployed overseas at this point, many of them use social media to stay in touch with their families on these long and frequent deployments,” he said.

The DoD also uses social media to communicate polices and news to diverse and growing audiences, he said. Lynn told the employees that he has a Facebook page, as does Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other defense and military leaders.

“We certainly see social media as a critical new avenue in how you communicate,” he said.

Almost all IT processes are double-edged swords, Lynn acknowledged. While they provide benefits, they can also be used as an avenue for attack. The DoD created a social-media policy to replace different policies on social media each service had in place because those already in place were “too static and focused largely on blocking sites that people thought would have the most vulnerability.”

The department was losing the benefits of social media and gaining nothing on the security side, he said.

“So we came up with a new approach that tried to balance the need for security with the benefit of social media,” he explained. To address that issue, the department eliminated the blocks on social network sites, but built up network defenses.

The first step of the new defense posture, he said, is hygiene, with DoD users downloading and using patches, and a huge education push is under way to reach all of the 3 million computer users in the department.

“We need all users to be informed users [who] understand the privacy protections that are available [and] the processes and procedures we expect of them,” he said. “We expect them to be part of the security equation.”

The second level is perimeter defense that uses firewalls and network intrusion devices that will eliminate another 30 to 40 percent of the attacks.

“That last 10 to 20 percent, though, we need a very active defense,” Lynn said. “We need to fuse the nation’s intelligence capabilities with the cyberdefense capabilities.”

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