Science and Technology News

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stay vigilant for cyber threats

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/7/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- In the modern world, threats to the United States and its defenses come from different angles. Today, the government may not be attacked by physical threats obvious to all, such as bombs; however they are often at risk from something just as damaging - cyber threats.

Most people in the Air Force use computers daily. But each time personnel log on to the Department of Defense network, they could be at risk and could be putting their country's national security at risk.

At RAF Mildenhall, the role of the 100th Air Refueling Wing Information Assurance Office is to ensure base members have the tools and training they need so they know what to look out for and stay cyber safe.

"We provide top-tier information security guidance and support to Team Mildenhall as well as the 501st Combat Support Wing," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Brown, 100th ARW IA superintendent from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

The office is made up of six Airmen who work hard to keep Team Mildenhall members armed with the knowledge and training they need to use a government computer properly.

"We help maintain the IA posture of each organization to ensure the confidentiality, availability and integrity of information systems and resources so unit missions continue securely and without unnecessary delay," Brown said.

Brown explained how his team is made up of highly trained and skilled personnel. The IAO team needs base members to assist them in being the "eyes and ears" for the 100th ARW commander.

"As an office, we hope to secure RAF Mildenhall's network by informing and educating users, spreading IA awareness and ensuring compliance," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonathan Ferraro, 100th ARW IA technician from Washington, D.C.

It is not an easy role. With thousands of people on base using government computers each day, spread over a wide geographical area, it's a challenging job.

"The toughest challenge we face is helping our users understand that the 100th ARW IAO answers to many organizations and has more than 500 governing regulations. With very few people, at times our operations tempo seems to move at break-neck speed," Brown said.

Each day is different, but the IA team must complete some tasks each day in order to secure the network.

"Our daily tasks include ensuring classified area countermeasures are secure; end-user workstation security, certification and accreditation of the domain; and validating IA controls to reduce vulnerabilities," Ferraro said.

Although it's hard work, each day brings a new challenge for Brown and his team. The work is very rewarding. Knowing what their office does protects not only Team Mildenhall and its people and assets, but also the security of their country back home. It's people that make it worthwhile.

"The most positive and enjoyable areas of our work is when a customer comes in and appreciates the effort we put forth toward helping them achieve their requirement. The team is motivated to work that much harder," Brown said. "A positive attitude and a little patience go a very long way."

There are many groups and organizations the 100th ARW IAO works with, in varying amounts. These include the 100th Communications Squadron, 33rd Network Warfare Squadron, 624th Operations Center and the U.S. Air Force in Europe/Cyber Surety.

Computer security is important and everyone should stay engaged and remain vigilant at all times. By keeping stand-alone computers patched, not leaving Common Access Cards unattended, using government information technology resources as intended and educating those around you to do the same, the security posture of the RAF Mildenhall networks and its resources will remain high.

"These measures are extremely important," Brown said. "The 100th ARW IAO stands ready to assist you if you have any questions."

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