Thebastidge: Blocked Sites
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  • Believe it
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Blocked Sites

    I've essentially posted this to a couple of different places, but might as well include it here:

    So, the military has blocked access to certain band-width intensive sites. This has people up in arms about milbloggers being censored when they're the "only good source of news coming out of Iraq," or because it just doesn't seem fair to troops who are far from home to cut them off even further. this is all well and good, but it doesn't take into account some very basic facts on the groud. Also, many people seem not to be aware that many corporations do the same thing back home.

    As an IT professional myself, I can tell you that many sites expose the corporation to problems: sites that clandestinely download malware to your computer, as well as questionable content that can get an organization sued under blanket responsibilities to "provide a harassment-free workplace".

    IT policies are formulated and promulgated with the dual purposes of increasing productivity and decreasing liability. The default position should acknowledge that the mission comes first.

    MySpace is a crap interface and people's accounts are constantly being hacked. However, it’s popular because of its easy “push-button” publishing. It is specifically designed to be a sharing portal, and it was designed by a 15 year old with no concept of security. Then it was taken over by Google to be another advertising business, and very little in the way of improvements have been made to it. YouTube is a bandwidth HOG.

    Internet access here is via satellite. It is NOT cheap. A limited amount is set aside for MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) activities. MySpace etc is available through these MWR networks and commercially available Internet Cafes- available at just about every fixed base. MWR nets have a time limit, and commercial cafes require you to pay- so what?

    Official military networks are just that: official. They are government property (meaning paid for by you and me through our taxes) and are meant for the purpose of fighting the war.

    Just like any network provided to an employee by an employer, network access comes with a user agreement and acceptable use policy. Incidental use of web browsing and email alongside the primary, work-related use is fine, IF it doesn’t impact the mission. Employees everywhere nowadays take too much of an entitlement attitude towards using their employer's resources for personal reasons. I wouldn't go so far as to say that using an employer's network for your own purposes is necessarily STEALING, but too much personal use could have much the same effect as taking home office supplies- a net loss to the company.

    The networks here are saturated with traffic. The “hoochnet” provided (free) in the trailers is all but unusable between 5 and 10pm local time (a lot of people including me are “MySpacing” during that time). The Palace MWR net likewise. I have it on good authority that the (official) embassy network AVERAGES 85% saturization- a normal corporate network in the states might average 30-50% and peak at 75% before they consider buying more bandwidth or limiting what employees have access to, particularly if they look at their traffic stats (yes, most workplaces keep stats on usage!) and see that a large portion of it was going to something obviously non-work-related like MySpace.

    Nothing prevents a GI from buying a card and paying for commercial Internet time. This is exactly analagous to making phone calls from military telephones- if it doesn't cost anything extra, it's fine. Once you start racking up long distance charges, you have to use your phone card.

    Hmmph. Kids these days, always complaining!


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