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Apr 5, 2010 10:04 PM by Matt Stafford

Social networking finding a place on base

The Internet is a constant experiment. For businesses, governments and organizations, many are trying to put social networking to use online. Still some are wary. For the Air Force, computers at Peterson Air Force Base can't access many social networking sites, and that's been for security reasons.

"We had to put in some constraints and block off these sites," says Col. Richard Mallick, who works with Space Command securing the Air Force's network.

However, that may change soon. Benefits are beginning to outweigh the risks in the eyes of leaders on base. They see how much those sites are being used worldwide, and by their airmen and women too.

"They use them at home all the time so we're going to see how we can leverage that and help improve operations across the Air Force."

Five trial bases are experimenting before the idea of opening up Internet access goes widespread.

"We're hopeful we'll be able to roll this out to Peterson and the rest of the Air Force by the end of April," Mallick says.

The question is, when that time comes around, will workers on base be focusing on their job or their profile?

"There's always opportunity to abuse it (access to certain websites), but we think that we have a very educated, trained force that understands why they come to work," explains Mallick.

However, if it does become a problem, it may not be one for long.

"We can make operational decisions to shut them down for a period of time or restrain use," warns Mallick.

Which isn't what they want, but part of the effort to balance benefit and risk.

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