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Cybersecurity: why it matters

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. John Wilkes
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

Cyber-attacks on Air Force networks can have a devastating impact on critical infrastructure, networks, weapons platforms and other assets. The responsibility for maintaining a secure network falls on everyone who accesses it; from a junior Airman in maintenance all the way up to the installation commander.

“Cyber is evolving, it’s a domain,” said Tech. Sgt. Tyler Stokes, 379th Expeditionary Communication Squadron cybersecurity technician. “It is an evolving game and what was working today may not work tomorrow so you constantly have to be refreshing your security. When you get complacent, that’s when you see [issues].”

Air Force networks at home and abroad are constantly under attack from adversaries across the globe.

“It’s happening on this base at this moment, they are trying to get into our networks,” added Master Sgt. Ryan Canterbury, 379th ECS cyber mission assurance team section chief.

To maintain readiness, operational and informational security, Canterbury and his team need all users who access the network to do their part in upholding cybersecurity, which can be challenging.

“Basically everything is networked these days,” said Canterbury. “Almost everything we do is on a computer and joined to a network.”

According to Stokes, one of the most common questions asked is what can everyday users do to help?

“Practice good cyber hygiene,” Stokes said. “Whether that is making your password complex, changing it often, understanding what certain attacks look like or reporting any incidents. All of these things reduce the chance that an adversary gets in.”

The U.S. Cyber Command recommends being cautious when clicking suspicious links or attachments, being conscientious of people who call or email with attempts to gain unwarranted or sensitive information, avoiding sensitive browsing over open or unsecure networks and not plugging unauthorized devices into network computers.

“The overarching cybersecurity point is if you sit down and list all the things you do during the day, most of it is going to be digital,” Canterbury said. “Have that mindset, know that every aspect of your life is digital and cybersecurity related.”

These practices apply to both government and personal information.

“Keeping the information out of the bad guy’s hands, that’s what our bottom line is,” added Stokes. “Safeguarding our assets and keeping them safe, as well as the information on them.”

Airmen with the 379th ECS monitor and defend the network 24/7 but it is every Airmen’s responsibility to maintain the integrity, confidentiality and availability of the networks.