March Madness and Pentagon Security

Government pentagon

If you’re not wasting enough productive hours at the office talking about politics, March ushers in a whole new way to shirk your work duties – the NCAA basketball tournament. Since the advent of web streaming, enterprising professionals have found a way to watch their top games while (perhaps) getting a little work done.

It’s a phenomenon that’s hard to control without restricting access to the web itself. Whether you live-stream games via CBS or watch clips on YouTube, you have a variety of viewing options available – and all of them are a strain on your enterprise’s bandwidth – even for the employer who invented the Internet.

An unclassified memo from the Pentagon’s Joint Service Provider (JSP) and obtained by CBS News (who is delighted to stream the games for you wherever you are) outlines what it sees as the security risks of March Madness. “Please keep in mind; if you’re streaming video to watch your favorite player shooting free throws, you’re consuming network resources that could be served to support the Warfighter,” the memo warns.

Bandwidth is a finite resource, and it’s one the Pentagon has always had a particular penchant toward hoarding. When I worked for the Army in 2008, bandwidth was often sited as a reason for restricting access to social networking sites across the Pentagon network. Yes, you read that right – the Pentagon has long been a hold-out in allowing unfettered access to social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. For years, anything with ‘social’ or ‘network’ somehow in the definition was banned for any user unable to get a waiver from their IT department. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy approval, even for public affairs officers.

Whether or not you believe the bandwidth argument, the Pentagon JSP is here to remind you – you may be watching March Madness, but their always watching you – or your bandwidth consumption, anyway.


JSP Notice: March Madness Video Streaming and Network Consumption

SUMMARY: March Madness is officially upon us. Your JSP support team acknowledges and appreciates that college basketball fans within the DoD are excited to cheer on their favorite teams, update brackets, and otherwise obsess over the Big Dance. In preparation for the event, JSP engineers will closely monitor bandwidth consumption and server availability to handle additional network strain as best as they can. However, it is important to remember that we share a single network and visiting non-mission essential websites degrades network performance for everyone.

Please keep in mind; if you’re streaming video to watch your favorite player shooting free throws, you’re consuming network resources that could be served to support the Warfighter.

If you experience any questions or concerns, please contact the JSP Service Desk for assistance.


Joint Service Provider (JSP)

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.

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