Culture change for cyberspace operations

  • Published
  • By Ann Markman and Lt. Col. Will Ross
  • 66th Mission Support Group Communications and Information Division
Defense Department networks are monitored every day and the number of intrusion attempts has more than doubled in the last eight months. Although Air Staff and Major Commands are working on top level policies and guidance to improve network security, the AF must act as a team to counter growing threats to the Global Information Grid. This means that base and unit level organizations as well as individual computer users can help the AF assume its best defense posture right now.

Because one area of focus at the Electronics Systems Center is Information Technology acquisitions, compliance with IT policies and legislation is a critical part of Hanscom's everyday mission. Program leadership must ensure proper compliance throughout each program's lifecycle. As they build the architecture and infrastructure for a program, they must plan not only how security is to be achieved, but how it is to be maintained as the Global Information Grid evolves and matures.

But individual computer users also play an important role in keeping the network safe. To minimize vulnerabilities, approved configurations must be maintained across the entire network. Users can help by submitting requirements for new hardware or software through the Computer Systems Requirements Document (CSRD) process, which ensures that systems going onto the network have appropriate approval.

Individuals should also be on the lookout for suspicious incidents. For example, each user should read the "last logon" message that comes up when he or she logs in every day and verify that the times listed for the last successful and unsuccessful logon attempts are correct. If not, it may be a sign that someone has been trying to access his or her account. If this happens, users should call the response center immediately at 781-377-4357.

Users should also protect their computers at home. Commercial antivirus products, like Symantec and McAfee, are available for home use at no cost to DoD employees and military members. This home use software is available from the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations via their website.

Keeping the network secure is a team effort so operating a computer on the AF network comes with responsibilities. Gen. Chilton, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, warns that just by hitting the "on" button, a servicemember is "stepping to the guard gate of his base" (AF Times, May 18).