P2P File Sharing on Your Government Computer is Prohibited, Bad for the Network, and Jeopardizes Mission

By Command Master Chief (IDW/SW) Jon R. Taylor
U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet

What is Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software?  It is software that creates P2P networks, which directly link computers to one another, allowing users to share digital movies, music, and other files by circumventing centralized security controls and network defenses. (Examples include Shareaze, BitTorrent, Ares, and BearShare, among others.)

While some may choose to use P2P software on their personal computers, such programs are expressly prohibited on government computers.

That’s right.  Both Department of Defense and Navy policy prohibit the use of P2P software applications on government computers (except under very restricted circumstances, and even then only when authorized by proper authority in support of mission requirements).

Cyberspace and Navy networks are integral to the way we command and control platforms – they enable the operation of our ships, aircraft, and weapons systems.  The use of P2P applications open a door into our networks for malevolent cyber actors and malware that may potentially disrupt our ability to safely operate our platforms and accomplish our mission.

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class John Erskine, Chief Information Systems Technician Jennifer Williams, Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class Tyrone Fuller, and Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Amanda Kisner work together to assess the security of the computer networks aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class John Erskine, Chief Information Systems Technician Jennifer Williams, Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class Tyrone Fuller, and Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Amanda Kisner work together to assess the security of the computer networks aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

If you unwittingly or knowingly violate policy and establish such a connection, you threaten the Navy’s mission by skirting critical security defenses and jeopardize your own career.

Every time we log in to a government computer we see the “U.S. Dept. of Defense Warning Statement.”  Have you actually read it?  You are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and violating policy and regulations will result in NJP or worse. (Not to mention that before being given access, you signed the OPNAV Form 5239/14, System Authorization Access Request, in which you acknowledged awareness of key network “do’s and don’ts.”)  If you partake in a prohibited activity*, you may find yourself out of a job.

Should you be tempted to use P2P on government computers, remember: not only is it prohibited, but it threatens your shipmates, your unit’s mission, the Nation’s warfighting capability, and possibly your career – is it really worth all this?

Do the right thing: keep it outside the lifelines.

*“Prohibited activity” is defined under DoD Policy as: Download, installation, or use of unauthorized software (e.g., applications, games, peer-to-peer software, movies, music videos, files); accessing pornography; unofficial advertising, selling, or soliciting; improperly handling classified information; using DoD ISs to gain unauthorized access to other systems or networks; endorsing non-USG products or services; participating in any lobbying activity or engaging in any prohibited partisan activity; posting DoD information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authorization; other uses incompatible with public service (Department of Defense Policy 8550.01).

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P2P File Sharing on Your Government Computer is Prohibited, Bad for the Network, and Jeopardizes Mission