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Cyber security: Our present, our future

The goal of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which takes place each year in October, is to spread awareness about hackers and their techniques in order to reduce the number of victims in future years. On average, there are one million victims of cyber-crime across the globe every day, and most of them could have prevented the attack if they were more educated on cyber security. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji)

The goal of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which takes place each year in October, is to spread awareness about hackers and their techniques in order to reduce the number of victims in future years. On average, there are one million victims of cyber-crime across the globe every day, and most of them could have prevented the attack if they were more educated on cyber security. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Cyber technologies and the Internet are an integral part of everyone's lives these days, whether at work, at home, on the go, for fun, to keep us healthy, manage our finances and even to save our lives. Most of our day-to-day routines rely heavily upon technology and cyber connectivity because of the ease they provide. Although these technologies have become relied upon and are highly beneficial, they don't come without their own set of precautions and potential dangers.

Cyber security was identified by President Barack Obama, "As one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," according to the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer website.

"Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse," explains the Department of Homeland Security. "No country, industry, community, or individual is immune to cyber risks. As individuals, cybersecurity risks can threaten our finances, identity, and privacy. As a nation, we face constant cyber threats against our critical infrastructure and economy."

Cyber attacks occur on a daily basis, said Tech. Sgt. William Tully, cyber surety technician in the 162nd Wing Information Assurance office. The wing infrastructure and its information are constantly under attack, but most people aren't aware of these occurrences because they can't physically see them, he said.

Cyber security is not just the responsibility of IA managers or network technicians, it is the responsibility of everyone who has access to the network.

"The most important link is the user," said Robert J. Carey, former DOD deputy CIO. "Each of us, when we engage the network, is either an asset or a vulnerability, depending on our actions. The human becomes the weakest link, and so the more we can strengthen that weakest link, the better we will be."

To raise awareness of cyber security, the Department of Homeland Security sponsors Cyber Security Awareness Month each October, this year marking its 11th year. The goal is to educate the public and private sectors through events and initiatives to increase national resiliency in the face of cyber incidents.

It's a daily struggle working to stay compliant within the Air Force IA environment of ever-changing regulations, while simultaneously combating cyber threats and providing a safe but functional network for wing users, said Tully.

The 162nd Wing performs a critical mission for the Air Force, our country, and the world. The security of the wing's information and infrastructure are critical to the continuance of its mission. Wing network assets are part of a larger network that if compromised, could have a dire impact on personal, local and national operations and security.

"We can no longer assume the risk of allowing potential vulnerabilities to be introduced into the network," said Master Sgt. Heidi Estes, IA manager for the wing. "It's essential we adopt a culture in which it's everyone's duty to protect the cyber domain."

"Since our way of life depends on critical infrastructure and the digital technology that operates it, cybersecurity is one of our country's most important national security priorities, and we each have a role to play--cybersecurity is a shared responsibility," explained the Department of Homeland Security.

As the world and technology evolve, so must our military operations and strategies.
"The security of our nation is something I swore to 23 years ago," said Tully. "The only thing that's changed is the battlefield." 

Wars are no longer defined by our physical capabilities, they are defined by the information we hold. Our weapons are no longer limited to the machinery wielded by individuals, but have become the individuals themselves who wield their intellect to cause digital destruction with the click of a button. Safeguarding our critical information is our country's greatest defense.

As military members and Americans, it is our duty to protect our critical information by following the rules set forth by the government and cyber security experts. This October, the 162nd Wing IA office will be distributing information throughout the wing to inform and educate members on cyber security.

They will also be participating in a Command Cyber Readiness Inspection, CCRI, conducted by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The CCRI ensures the wing's compliance with DOD standards focusing on operational adherence and vulnerability configurations across wing network and voice systems.

For additional information on cyber security and how you can protect your organization and yourself, contact the wing IA office at 520-295-7100.

The Department of Homeland Security provided tips for individuals to keep themselves, their assets, and their information safe online.

- Set strong passwords and don't share them with anyone.

- Keep operating systems, browsers, and other software up-to-date and optimized by installing all necessary updates.

- Maintain an open dialogue with family, friends, co-workers and community agencies about Internet safety and network security.

- Limit the amount of personal information shared online, and ensure online privacy settings are strict to avoid publicizing sensitive personal information.

- Be cautious about any information or offers found or received via the Internet that are too good to be true.

For additional information, go to www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month-2014