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Skills to know about cyber security awareness

  • Published
  • By Richard J. Smith
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Information Assurance Office
October is National Cyber Security Awareness month across the United States, and the 375th Air Mobility Wing Information Assurance Office coupled with the 375th Communications Group is leading the effort on base to ensure you and your family are educated and protected.

Although the term "cyber security" sounds very high tech, it's something everyone can and should understand. Cyber security involves protecting information online, everything from email to cell phones, digital cable to airplane navigation, online shopping to medical records. Consider that from the time the telephone was invented in 1876 it took another 50 years for the first transatlantic phone call to be placed, and almost 80 years before all Americans could even dial long distance.

By comparison, the first commercial web browser came out just over 17 years ago, and today the vast majority of Americans are online, as are more than 2.3 billion people around the world. But the very openness of the Internet, one of its great strengths, is also its greatest vulnerability. The 9/11 hijackers used travel sites to plan their attacks. The federal government recently set up a cyber security department and is hard at work coming up with a plan to protect cyberspace - but what can you and your family do?

The first step is to be more aware, to understand what risks are out there. Dangers include computer and cell phone viruses, identity theft, someone using your computer or cell phone to attack others, and social networking sites.

As individuals, the steps we need to take are clear, and they will make a big difference:

· Educate your children early about staying safe online.

· Install and activate firewalls for your computer and internet connection.

· Use the security features built in on most cell phones.

· Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is installed and up-to-date.

· Check your computer settings to make sure your operating system and applications are automatically patched.

· Practice good online habits by not visiting suspect sites, downloading suspicious documents or attachments, or opening email from people you don't know.

· Back up your files regularly and use strong, secure passwords.

The 375th Communications Group is hosting cyber security briefings from area experts throughout the month of October. For a schedule of briefings please contact Master Sgt. Trenton Musel at 256-1887 or Tech. Sgt. Danny Porch at 256-4014. The 375th Information Assurance Office will also be disseminating information to base organizations.

Every time we log on to a computer, use a cell phone or any electronic device, we're entering a cyber battlefield. Equip yourself and your family with the knowledge to stay safe and secure. It's our shared responsibility.