JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas. — Inspections are an important part of keeping all Air Force operations running as smoothly as possible and the cyber security team at Joint Base San Antonio is ahead of the curve. Their efforts have earned them the 2017 Air Force Chief of Safety Cyber Safety award.
“I don’t believe in getting ready for inspection. Cyber security is so important that it should be something we do 24/7,” said Francisco Beatty, JBSA Cyber Security chief, 502nd Communications Squadron.
His team is responsible for keeping approximately 85,000 computers connected and running securely within the JBSA community. Beatty said any user could become a target at any moment.
“This isn’t something that is going to happen to the other guy. It could happen to you and you may have no idea that it’s going on right now,” Beatty added.
While most of the computer systems are pin based with a common access card, there’s always going to be a challenge.
“We find people wanting to access wireless more frequently; bluetooth, personal hot spots, ways to provide their own entertainment or access to the internet,” said Greg Martin, JBSA Information Systems specialist. He added that it can be a challenge to keep the communication avenues safe for military users.
“We control the wireless spectrum. We scan for rogue systems and rogue wireless connections and we do our best to track it down and find out what it is supporting and how we can secure the connection,” Martin said.
“It all comes back to data. If people can get their hands on your information, there’s a lot of things they can do to manipulate it to their advantage,” Beatty said.
All military internet users must take a cyber training course once a year so they can learn how to keep current threats at bay.
“We’re vulnerable. We get attacked thousands of times a day electronically but there’s so many different layers of defense that are being put in place that have been even above us at the base level that captures most of that,” Martin added.
“You can’t plug anything into a computer on the Air Force network. It will trip the land port and just kill all access to your machine. In all cases, it will trigger a security violation and disable your account,” Beatty said.
Simple things can make a big difference in keeping your information secure. Both Beatty and Martin encourage users to keep their anti-virus software up to date, follow good computer use practices such as changing passwords frequently and not opening items you receive through email if it’s from someone you don’t know.
“The adversary [hacker]--that’s his job. He’s doing what he does day in and day out 24/7,” Beatty said.
“You can’t get complacent. You’ve always gotta be thinking how someone could be trying to get your data or compromise it,” Martin said.
The JBSA cyber team will continue to keep internet systems running safely with as little interruption as possible.
“If we find it [an issue] we work with the team as needed so they can get out and isolate the particular system offline or help the user remediate the system. It’s a great team effort,” Beatty added.