Classified message incidents affect everyone

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- A classified message incident is when classified material or information is sent through e-mail over an unsecured work center computer such as the one I am using to write this article. A CMI is a foundational break down in our ability to protect classified information and results in a loss of man-hours, money and time. We as a team must focus on preventing these costly incidents and ensure everyone has a broader understanding of the CMI process and how we can prevent them.

Causes of CMIs are numerous and highlight poor classified protection practices. Computer users can prevent CMIs by not transmitting sensitive to classified material through normal e-mail and instead use secure means such as secret internet protocol router network, commonly referred to as SIPRNet. Information Protection practices are aimed at preventing the transmission of classified material through e-mail. E-mail users must take the time to consider material classification being written on their desktop or laptop before sending. Poor classified protection practices can be eliminated by slowing down. Always determine classification of material you are working with and never send classified via unsecured means.

CMIs consist of four phases: Assessment, containment, sanitation and investigation. When faced with a potential CMI, immediately notify your unit's information assurance officer. The IAO will collect all necessary information concerning the incident. In addition, open a trouble ticket by calling DSN 632-2666 using a secure voice phone such as secure terminal equipment, Omni, or secure voice over internet protocol. Do not discuss CMI details on a non-secure phone line or computer. After notifying the network help desk, report this incident to your unit security manager. The USM will notify the wing information protection office at DSN 632-4201/4262. Initiating and completing the phases of the CMI are important and enhance our ability to determine the CMI's cause.

Raising awareness about what a CMI is and how to prevent them are positive steps we can take to continue our efforts in preventing them. Together, we can make a difference by slowing down when writing information, ensuring we are fully aware of the type or classification of material we are working with, and learning from our costly mistakes. Remember, preventing CMIs saves man-hours, money and time.