Wing promotes cyber security

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 366th Fighter Wing celebrated cyber security month last week by hosting a series of competitions and lectures.

Terry Pobst-Martin, 366th FW chief of information protection, put together the events to inform people of computer threats and how to protect against them.

"With cyber security, I wanted to help people be aware," she said. "You know that there is stuff out there but you just don't know how big of a deal it actually is."

Pobst-Martin discussed the different types of hackers and how they attack devices we use every day.

"A lot of the malware now is directed towards smartphones because they can do so much," said Pobst-Martin.

In the lectures, she went in-depth on how smart phones are attacked through free wireless connections and other routes. She also discussed the ways hackers can install software called a botnet on someone's computer to use it as a central hub for their attacks so they can't be traced back to them.

Once the botnet is added to someone's computer, the hacker can remotely take over, usually without the user knowing it. Hackers can control multiple botnets working together as a remote supercomputer, sending and receiving data to conduct attacks. Because it appears the attacks come from the remote computers, their owners sometimes find themselves in the FBI's crosshairs.

"[Hackers] can send out things from your computer and make it look like it came from your computer whether or not you did it or not, or if you were even there, which made [the presentation] very interesting," said Lt. Col. Brian Vance, 366th Comptroller Squadron commander.

Airman and their families were also given the opportunity to test their knowledge. As patrons the Base Exchange a booth was set up where they could answer questions about cyber security.

"It made it more fun," Pobst-Martin explained.

Although she made learning about cybersecurity entertaining, she still stressed the importance of it.

"The mission comes first, but also safety," she said, "safety for your privacy, safety for assets and safety for our nation."

Pobst-Martin suggested additional steps for security at home:

1. Install and use anti-virus, spyware and firewall programs.
2. Keep system software updated as well as all your programs.
3. Use care when reading e-mail; be sure you know where and who it's coming from.
4. Use strong passwords with special characters, numbers and upper and lower case letters and use different passwords for different sites.
5. Use care when downloading and installing applications; make certain you are downloading from a safe and reputable source.
6. Secure your home wireless network - if have one.