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Deployments bug computer operators

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 4/26/2004

Story by Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Sloan

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa, Japan (April 23, 2004) -- When Okinawa Marines and Sailors were shut off from the internet late last month, many rumored why connectivity was denied. A division Marine may have placed blame on the wing, while the wing could have pointed at the FSSG. Why were computers down? The base? The MEF? The one-armed man?

Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery S. Patterson, information security manager, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, said it is irrelevant to play the blame game at this point. If computer operators follow proper procedure, what happened can be avoided.

"It was rumored the Marine had plugged back into the network after deploying before coming to us to have his computer checked," said the Baltimore native. "Therefore, it was a possibility that the virus had spread to others. As a precautionary measure we shut everything down for a couple days and conducted virus scans. Had he come to us first, all of this could have been avoided."

Patterson said it is standard procedure for service members returning from deployment to have anti-virus software run on their laptops by information security personnel before hooking back up to the domain.

"When a Marine disconnects his computer from the network and takes it on deployment, it becomes a lot more vulnerable to catching something out there than back here in the rear," he said. "The firewalls in the field aren't as sensitive as the ones on the network, increasing the chances of catching a virus. That's why we constantly remind Marines to come to us to have their computer examined before logging back on. It's the safe thing to do."

He also said the shops offer tips on ways to avoid getting a nasty virus when off the main domain on deployment.

Bright, flashing icons promising prizes and e-mail messages from unknown sources are a couple of the things users should steer clear of. With a single keystroke or mouse click, these seemingly harmless nuisances can often transform into nasty viruses capable of wreaking havoc throughout an entire networks.

Luckily, the resent scare didn't have to great of a negative impact on mission accomplishment.

"The system being down didn't cause us to cease work and go home," said Col. James A. Kessler, camp commander for H & S Bn, 3rd FSSG. "Marines did what Marines do best; they found a way to adapt and overcome."

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