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FCW : November and December 2015
As part of its campaign to improve email security, the Defense Department is instituting a policy to render web links unclickable in email messages to .mil addresses, Richard Hale, DOD’s deputy CIO for cybersecurity, told FCW. The new policy, which was coordi- nated between Hale’s office and U.S. Cyber Command, is already in place for much of the .mil domain, Hale said. For at least some users, outside email mes- sages are being flagged in the subject line as coming from a “non-DOD source.” Hale told FCW that after reviewing a series of anti-phish- ing measures already in place, officials decided that a more stringent approach was needed. “For years we have had an email policy that says we will not render HTML email,” he said, but some email clients still include active links in their messages. He said the solution was to “deacti- vate the links more actively in the mail system before it gets to an end user by adding a little extra into the link that says, ‘Caution.’” Email users can still paste the link into a Web browser, “but we don’t want that link to be active in Pentagon purges HTML from .mil emails of the zero-day bugs the National Security Agency discovers are disclosed, NSA Director Michael Rogers said 91% Trending [an] email and have someone click on it before they’ve thought through” the security implications. The extra measure is part of a series of initiatives begun in September by Joint Force Headquarters DOD Infor- mation Networks. “JFHQ DODIN provided direction to all DOD components to implement initiatives to further harden the DOD information environment, which includ- ed improving endpoint security system standards,” a Cyber Command spokes- person said in a statement. “Along with these initiatives, efforts to harden the DODIN’s defenses are always ongoing.” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and other officials have said that a great majority of intrusions into Pen- tagon networks are the result of the kind of human error that is exploited in phishing attacks, in which seem- ingly trustworthy email links are used as attack vectors to hijack computers, install malware or steal credentials. Therefore, DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen has made clamping down on phishing a priority during his tenure. In March, he issued a memo warning about potential phishing attacks on defense personnel through social media accounts. “Phishing continues to be successful because attackers do more research, evolve their tactics and seek out easy prey,” Halvorsen’s memo states. “We need to arm ourselves and our families with the defensive skills and knowledge to protect them from being victimized by a phishing email, comput- er or phone scam.” The new anti-phishing policy will have consequences for marketers and media (including FCW) trying to reach audiences behind the .mil screen. FCW and its sister publications already offer plain-text versions of their email news- letters and have taken additional steps to make those messages user-friendly for newly restricted DOD recipients. — Sean Lyngaas “We need to arm ourselves and our families with the defensive skills and knowledge to protect them from being victimized by a phishing email, computer or phone scam.” — TERRY HALVORSEN, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT November/December 2015 FCW.COM 3 FCW CALENDAR Agile ACT-IAC’s Emerging Technology Community of Interest will host a panel discussion on overcoming the challenges of acquiring agile digital services in government. Washington, D.C. is.gd/agile_gov Big data Commerce Chief Data Officer Ian Kalin and CFPB CDO Linda Powell are among the speakers at this FCW event on integrating big data into agency operations. Washington, D.C. FCW.com/bigdata 12/10 12/2 Cybersecurity DHS Cybersecurity Strategist Darryl Peek will speak at Washington Technology’s Cybersecurity Industry Day, which will explore agencies’ near-term cyber initiatives. Falls Church, Va. is.gd/wt_cyber 12/15 1215fcw_003-011.indd 3 11/16/15 3:40 PM