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AF Clears L-3 on Emails

The Air Force has lifted the suspension on L-3 Communications' Special Support Programs Division in an action that shows just how sensitive the government has become about email and how it is handled, especially by a company performing classified work.

The Air Force's decision to lift the suspension was mentioned by L-3's CEO in today's earning report: "Finally, we expect to execute an agreement with the Air Force today, under which the Air Force will lift the suspension of L-3's Special Support Programs Division. The Air Force will also agree not to suspend Integrated Systems."

To get there, the Air Force has required L-3's CEO, Michael Strianese, sign a three-year agreement with the Air Force mandating that company officials and employees receive ethics training, apparently in reaction to the mishandling of emails during a company security review. Also, the July 27 agreement forbids the SSPD to perform IT work for the government unless it is directly related to its Air Force special operations contract.

It looks as if alarm bells went off when the SSPD, which performs a great deal of classified work, screened emails looking for apparent leaks of company proprietary data. The company's IT folks did not distinguish between government senders and company senders. Also, emails from four competitors were captured. As we reported, the Air Force suspended the SSPD from all new government business and notified the parent company that it faced suspension as well.

In its agreement with the government, the company admits its employees goofed and that they "were not adequately aware of the risks present in operating" such an email network.

Every company that does classified work will likely be reviewing its email systems, the protocols governing them and the employees using and monitoring them.

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