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Commentary: Preventing CMIs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- During 2003, the Air Force experienced a significant increase in the number of classified message incidents, or CMIs, caused by users generating or receiving e-mail messages with classified content while using unclassified networked systems.

Air Mobility Command needs your help to prevent future occurrences of CMI, not only because it compromises classified information and puts individuals in line for disciplinary action, but because Air Force Special Security Instruction 5020 requires costly, time-consuming data purging and associated recovery actions for all e-mail servers and workstations that were affected. The recovery actions are not only costly and time consuming, they hinder e-mail services supporting the command's warfighters.

You can help stem the tide of CMIs by verifying none of the contents of a message are classified before composing the e-mail on an unclassified workstation. This is true for the information by itself, or when associated with other information to be included in the same e-mail.

Never send sensitive deployment, Unit Type Code, or other highly sensitive mobility information in an unclassified e-mail. Use the SIPRNET, the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or other secure means, such as secure fax, to send such information, just as you would for other classified information.

If you have sent or received an e-mail message through the unclassified network and later discover there might be classified content, contact your workgroup manager immediately. Swift corrective actions can prevent a CMI from spreading further and keep the number of affected systems to be purged to a minimum.

If a CMI is suspected or confirmed, your workgroup manager should contact the AMC Network Operations and Security Center crew commander by secure phone at DSN 576-8007 or by other secure means. The crew commander will then coordinate actions needed to purge the classified e-mail content from all affected unclassified e-mail servers and workstations.

Through increased scrutiny of content during e-mail preparation, we can prevent or reduce the frequency of CMI and decrease the costly recovery actions that hinder vital unclassified e-mail services supporting our global warfighters.