Terrorist threat may limit Pentagon Web siteSeptember 17, 1998
Web posted at: 2:08 p.m. EDT (1808 GMT)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon, concerned that some of the massive amounts of information it puts on the Internet might be useful to terrorists, is considering whether to trim its Web presence.
The government's various military Web sites -- one for the Department of the Defense and one for each service branch -- "perhaps provide too much information," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon.
During a Wednesday news briefing he did not say whether a specific threat prompted the Pentagon's concern.
But in August, after the United States fired cruise missiles at suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, the Pentagon departed from its normal procedure and did not provide operational details of the strikes.
Commanders of all service branches also were reminded not to put detailed information about the attacks on their Web sites.
Military officials say information such as the names of commanders and the location of their families could be used by terrorists seeking retaliation.
Some of the military's Web pages contain unclassified but detailed information about ships, planes, weapons, troop deployments and bases.
Determining what stays and what goes is a project headed by Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre, the Pentagon's point man on technology issues.
Bacon said Hamre and the Joint Chiefs of Staff office have been looking "aggressively" at the military's Web sites to see what information currently is available on:
"Actual diagrams of buildings of certain military installations";
"Lessons learned on certain military operations or programs";
Future research and development goals; and
"Personnel information that could perhaps provide too much information in terms of locating people or recreating identities from information provided on the Internet."
The Pentagon's review of material it puts on the Internet has been ongoing for some time. An announcement of what it plans to do will be made "at some appropriate time," Bacon said.
"We're in the process now, as I believe many private companies are, of trying to sort out what the right balance is between providing useful information and providing more information than is necessary over the Internet," he told reporters.
"Some of this involves cutting out clutter on the Internet and focusing Web sites so that they provide useful amounts of information without overwhelming users," Bacon said.
U.S. government Web sites are frequent targets for hackers. Last year, the Pentagon alone recorded more than 250,000 break-in attempts and in February, hackers succeeded in gaining access to the Pentagon's unclassified files.
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