Watch out for wireless devices in sensitive areas

Gen. David McKiernan
Commanding General, 7th Army and USAREUR

Our ability to protect sensitive information is vital to sustaining our
warfighting capability. Evolving technology and the growing use of
wireless devices, however, put this information at risk. We must always
protect this information from being compromised.

Many of us use cell phones, BlackBerries, and other types of personal
electronic devices to maintain situational awareness. Although these
devices are very helpful, there are vulnerabilities associated with
their use. We must be aware of the vulnerabilities and apply
appropriate operations security countermeasures to mitigate the risk.

Even when the user turns it off, a wireless device can be remotely
turned on to eavesdrop and retransmit conversations, typically within
20 feet of the device. Because there are no external indications of
active use, the user will not know that the device has been turned on.

To prevent the compromise of sensitive information, personnel will not
carry cell phones, BlackBerries, or PEDs that contain a cell phone
(wireless devices) into sensitive areas, even when they are turned off.

A sensitive area is any area where classified or unclassified sensitive
information is discussed. These include but are not limited to
sensitive compartmented information facilities, offices with open
storage, conference rooms, and other locations so designated by the
unit commander or staff principal.

In accordance with Army in Europe Command Policy Letter 33, commanders and staff principals will:

• Survey and designate the sensitive areas under their jurisdiction.
Visible signs must be placed at the entrances to these areas.

• Enforce the prohibition of cell phones, BlackBerries, and similar devices in sensitive areas.

• Provide an appropriate storage facility near the entrances to sensitive areas to temporarily store wireless devices.

• Take advantage of cell-phone blocker technology to protect sensitive
areas as prescribed by AE Supplement 1 to AR 25-1, paragraph E-11
(Spectrum Management).