Someone close to me asked a very good question, “Why does the News Media discuss things that should be classified?” It is a logical question and there is a logical explanation.
When establishing security of an operation, a security manager will do everything they can to make sure they have covered all of the holes. However, when you are so close to a security system sometimes the holes are not as obvious. A set of eyes and ears on the outside can be invaluable.
This is where the news media fits in. They are investigators with a wide range of talent and experience. Some of them are dumb as bricks and some are extremely sharp. They are often used by counter-intelligence services to spread disinformation; they are used by the security manager to expose holes in the system.
Having been personally close to classified operations the news media has been an awesome source of what the world did not know. If an enemy was using the news media then they were certainly in the dark. On rare occasions, the news media was dangerously close. These close calls allowed us to tweak the mission and the security system. In some instances, the news media provided real-time data that profoundly changed military doctrine.
Knowing where your security weaknesses are improved security. The best part is, we don’t have to pay the news media. Of course, the news media can be a tool of its own lack of knowledge.
Case in point. I was contacted by a major news outlet’s reporter. He had no technology experience. His claim was that the military was blocking certain websites from its on-duty personnel. Of course, they do. Certain sites are forbidden, like porn sites, or sites that are known to use a malicious software. The reporter explained that the site was not one of those. I did a little investigation and discovered that although the main site was not they type to be routinely blocked, the site did trip a warning from my security software. Further investigation revealed that the site had linked a picture from another website that was well known for malicious software. When I explained this to him…he went ahead and reported that the military was blocking certain websites without cause. You can’t fix stupid. Reporters such as this are easily manipulated which makes them a known security risk and an even better source of spreading disinformation.
News reporters are constantly cultivating sources, just as an enemy would do. Although this may seem very unpatriotic, it is a valuable unintended service.