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Base officials warn Airmen public Web sites can be dangerous

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The base antiterrorism officer and base officials have received information concerning the dangers posed by personal Web sites set up on public domains.

“The danger with Web sites on public domains is that it isn’t very difficult for a criminal, or sympathizers of terrorists, to glean personal information to use for their purposes,” said Mr. Douglas Frey, 28th Bomb Wing antiterrorism officer.

With many members of Ellsworth deployed, officials are concerned family members left at home may use such sites as a means of maintaining communication with their loved ones while they’re away.

Often, an adversary would only need to piece together a few small pieces of random information to begin disrupting personal lives or Air Force operations. The problem with Web sites on public domains is any personal or professional collaboration can be accessed by anyone with Internet access.

“Let’s say I find a Web site created on a public domain by your wife,” Mr. Frey said. “Her name would likely appear somewhere on the front page as being the Web page designer. Then, let’s say she mentions something in a posting about you being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq for another four months. In another posting, she mentions a family member’s name. A bad guy can use that information to access other publicly accessible information -- either for free, or for a very small fee.”

To illustrate his point, Mr. Frey brought up a Web site and typed in the name of a family member of a Black Hills Bandit staff member. The next page included information such as home mailing address, home telephone number, personal property value and even a picture of the individual’s home.

“He probably has no idea this picture was even taken,” Mr. Frey said.

While the possibility of a servicemember revealing essential elements of friendly information is one issue, a family member posting personal information that can be used by criminals is another.

“If you protect yourself against criminals, you’re going to protect yourself against terrorists as well,” Mr. Frey said.

The family support center offers several alternatives to personal Web pages as a means of staying in touch with loved ones who are deployed or on temporary duty. For more information, call the FSC at 385-4663.