MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
Airmen are reminded every day the importance of cybersecurity, and how integrating security concepts into operational missions and their personal lives help protect propriety and sensitive information from exploitation, espionage and disclosure.
On the operational side of cybersecurity, the 366th Communications Squadron is doing their part by establishing a Mission Defense Team -- a base-level defensive cyber operations concept for safeguarding Air Force weapons systems. MDTs across the Air Force lessen risks to base-level cyber operations, and the teams are able to tailor their cybersecurity programs to fit the needs of their installation.
Maj. Mike Poole, 366th CS commander, explained the importance of the MDT concept and its contribution to readiness.
“Readiness suffers in contested environments, so the better we shield our systems from adversary influence, the less our readiness is impacted,” Poole said.
The MDT here consists of seven highly skilled communications specialists from various sections of the 366th CS. As the MDT capability matures and manning allows, the squadron will have multiple MDTs focused on various unique mission systems.
Poole said current cyber protection is focused on Non-Classified and Secret Internet Protocol Router Networks and associated networks (NIPRNet and SIPRNet). The concept behind the MDTs is the security focus will shift to mission systems while NIPRNet and SIPRNet will be contracted out and treated more like a utility service.
“With focused attention on missile systems, we better defend against attacks by our adversaries,” Poole said. “The MDT concept is a first step towards the Cyber Squadron Initiative, which is where cyber squadrons, via communications squadrons, will defend mission systems directly related to effects-based global operations.”
While the MDT supports cybersecurity for Air Force missions, Staff Sgt. Eileen Siemsen, 366th CS cyber transport systems technician, explained Airmen need to practice cybersecurity measures in their personal communications, because it’s just as important to safeguard personal information when combating cyber adversaries.
“Social media is one of the main items that everyone can protect,” Siemsen said. “It’s not always just about Airmen themselves, but it could be the information of friends and family members.”
There are resources available for Airmen seeking more information on cybersecurity. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team website has links to numerous cybersecurity publications: https://www.us-cert.gov/security-publications. Airmen can access additional cybersecurity information, including antivirus software (CAC required) at https://afcyber.af.mil.
As challenges continue to evolve, the Air Force cybersecurity mission will continue to address those changes and safeguard professional and personal information.
“Anyone can be a threat,” Poole said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect important information.”