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Charge your smartphone, become a cyberspy

It seems that some in the U.S. Army garrison in South Korea charge their smartphones using government computers. This is something of a cybersecurity oopsie.

2 min read
Apple iPhone and charging cable
Don't charge it where you keep your secrets, OK? U.S. Army

There's just never enough battery life on your smartphone, is there?

You need it for so many things, like informing yourself, informing others and informing some mythical creature that you're about to kill it.

This might be especially true if, say, you happen to be in a U.S. Army garrison in South Korea.

Everyone in South Korea is on smartphones nonstop. It's de rigueur.

Now, efficiency is very important to the Army. Which means it's always tempting to charge a smartphone by plugging it into a computer.

The small drawback at a U.S. Army outpost is that these would be government computers. Which may have all sorts of secrets within, some that Julian Assange has never seen or even heard of.

As the U.S Army itself informs us on its Web site, these heedless smartphone owners have become the most virulent cybersecurity violators in the whole of South Korea.

You see, in a recent seven-day period alone, there were 129 such cyberviolations detected by the Korea Theater Network Operations Center. That's far more than the whole cast of a Bourne movie.

Most apparently charge up innocently. It's a reflex reaction, like not thinking straight.

As Lt. Col Mary M. Rezendes, 1st Signal Brigade operations officer-in-charge, said of these scofflaws: "They don't realize that computers recognize their phones as hard drives and that their software puts our network at risk."

It's not as if soldiers and their civilian cohort don't get cybersecurity training. It's not as if it isn't explained to them that USB devices can't come near a government computer.

But these people are human and they make mistakes, somewhere on the spectrum from silly to sinister.

Surely everyone has to be on heightened alert now that it has been revealed that Kim Jong-un is in possession of his own smartphone.

The sanctions can be quite severe. Civilians get a reprimand. Military personnel are subject to those kinds of military law punishments that can never, ever be all that pleasant.

Being of a disciplined mind myself, I want to find a good, humane solution.

Perhaps the U.S. Army might provide special charging stations, so that confusion can be kept at a minimum.

Perhaps a picture of General Patton, open-mouthed, with the caption "CHARGE!" might be placed above them, just to make their purpose entirely clear.

It was just a thought.