Staying safe in cyberspace

While using cyberspace appropriately can help support mission capabilities, without proper precautions it can turn into a tool for adversaries to gain an upper hand.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. While using cyberspace appropriately can help support mission capabilities, without proper precautions it can turn into a tool for adversaries to gain an upper hand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which aims to engage and educate individuals about the importance of cyber security and provide the tools and resources necessary to stay safe.

The 20th Communications Squadron plans to disseminate cyber security information around the 20th Fighter Wing in upcoming unit meetings to help raise awareness.

“The goal is to ensure every individual stays safe and secure online,” said Capt. Brock Wood, 20th CS plans and resources flight commander. “The concern is that technology has been developing and becoming more ingrained in our lives faster than people can keep up with understanding it and staying ahead of the threats.”

Without proper cyber security measures, individuals are at risk of being scammed, compromising networks, or having personal information stolen, including social security numbers and bank information.
“In addition to everything a person has to look out for, for themselves and their families, military members are already being targeted by our adversaries so they can get any type of leg up on us to fulfill their own goals counter to our missions,” said Wood. “They don’t have to try to sneak into the gate, they don’t have to fake an I.D. or to go over the walls. They don’t have to do that if they can get you to let them in from your desk.”

Wood said even taking basic protective measures can help prevent potential security violations.

Some protection tips include:

— Use complex passwords that differ across platforms.
— Avoid using public or unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks.
— Keep operational security in mind while posting on social media.
— Do not add personally identifiable information to social media profiles.
— Stay aware of location and timestamps present on social media posts.
— Only click on secure links.
— Apply company security policies to home cyber security.

“The biggest thing (for service members) is, follow the Air Force Instructions,” said Airman 1st Class Leif Gulbransen, 20th CS cyber security technician. “Only do what you’re supposed to do on the network. Make sure when you’re sending out an e-mail you’re checking it first to ensure there’s nothing in there that could be detrimental. Even though it is our network and it’s monitored, make sure you’re not leaving anything for an adversary to get.”

By taking steps to maintain cyber security, Airmen can help maintain superiority over the cyberspace domain, while protecting themselves, their families and the mission.