Keeping Our Systems Safe

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lisa Platz
  • 127th Communications Squadron
What comes to mind when you hear the word cyber, cyberspace or cybersecurity?

Being that the cyberspace domain is a primary highway for transactions vital to every part of modern life, it's no surprise that cyberspace is currently an Air Force priority. The only domain created by man, it's dynamic and evolving and is connected with operations on land, sea, air and space.

Recently, Gen. William L. Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command, stated that the Defense Department's networks are probed by unauthorized users close to 10 million times a day, and the threats are increasingly sophisticated. Our adversaries plant malicious code, worms and botnets in common websites, software, and hardware such as thumbdrives, printers etc. Some codes allow for the enemy to obtain higher levels of credentials to access sensitive information and create chaos in our work environment as well as in our personal lives.

In a world where someone is constantly attempting to steal proprietary information, degrade or shut down military operations, we must carefully protect our networks. Just as we wouldn't leave our house unlocked when we go on vacation, or leave our vehicles in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked, we must not leave our network and the information contained within unsecured.

Most people can imagine what it's like to protect themselves during an attack on land, but few people can visualize how to protect themselves from an attack in cyberspace.

So who is responsible for cybersecurity - to protect our network infrastructure? Is it the Wing? The 127th Communications Squadron? The Wing Information Assurance Manager? The answer is all of the above. Every person that is a user on the network. Each of us can limit adversary access to our networks and limit their access to critical information by following the guidelines from our Wing Information Assurance Manager's program.

The first golden rule, never ever connect any hardware or download any software, applications, music, or information onto our networks without approval from the Wing Information Assurance Manager. This includes never connecting any personal device to the network, to include charging a personal cellular telephone. Also, limit the storage of information on any shared drive and utilize the Electronic Records Management (ERM) to store official records.

Every unit commander has appointed an Information Assurance Officer who receives training, Cyber Threat Bulletins and updates from the Wing Information Assurance Manager, TSgt Leonard Crull. Prior to connecting or purchasing anything related to the network, ensure that you speak with your IAO who should guide you in the right direction.

Everyone must avoid being careless on the network to keep from negatively impacting the operations of the 127th Wing and/or ANG.

In addition to protecting the systems at work, protect your home network in the same manner that you protect and secure your home. As you prepare yourself and your family for deployments, prepare your home network and eliminate vulnerabilities to reduce threats to your system and information. The DoD Antivirus Software License Agreement with McAfee and Symantec allows active DoD employees to use antivirus software for home use. Home users will find antivirus products to support Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac and Linux operating systems - see your unit IAO or CSA for more information.

As national security is being redefined by cyberspace, each of us continues to have a vital role in the security and defense of the network and must do our part to secure cyberspace.