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CHIPS Articles: Protecting Sailors and Their Families Is a Top Priority for NIOC San Diego

Protecting Sailors and Their Families Is a Top Priority for NIOC San Diego
By Kumar Sankara, NIOC San Diego Training Officer - September 2, 2016
NAVAL INFORMATION FORCES, SUFFOLK, Va. — Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego recognizes the value of protecting the Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN) as well as each individual Sailor in this ever-advancing information environment.

There is a clear relationship between the network and the operator: The more hardened the network, the more protected its users are, and the more vigilant the users behave when using the network, the less vulnerable the network is.

NIOC San Diego is the only command in the Pacific Fleet Area of Operations offering Independent Blue Team Visits (IBTV) to ships in the Basic Phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). The NIOC San Diego Navy Blue Team is dedicated to working with information system technicians (IT) to identify vulnerabilities in ships’ networks. The blue team finds that many of the vulnerabilities in Navy networks exist due to users exhibiting poor operating practices, such as inserting unauthorized USB devices into government computers, visiting malicious web pages, opening unverified attachments, or clicking on unverified hyperlinks. These actions open the door to adversaries, be they state-sponsored actors gathering intelligence or criminals collecting personally identifiable information (PII).

Proper network practices don’t just harden Navy networks, they also help protect Sailors’ personal data. As a separate initiative, NIOC San Diego provides training to Sailors, Marines, and their families designed to offer tips and procedures on protecting themselves while using social media. This one-hour social networking safety brief addresses common dangers and pitfalls associated with social media practices and proposes approaches to mitigating these dangers.

Topics discussed during this brief include how to secure Facebook privacy settings, the dangers of geo-tagged photos, and the importance of verifying links and attachments. This course was born out of the need to continually protect unclassified critical information (aka, operations security or OPSEC), however, the benefit to individual cyber security is palpable. While service members receive various forms of training in this area, for many spouses, this is the first time they are exposed to the threats associated with social media.

NIOC San Diego encourages all commands to take an active role in additional training for Sailors and Marines, both for the betterment of Navy networks and for their own social networking safety. This additional training can be included with OPSEC, information assurance, or as a stand-alone social networking safety brief.

Keep these helpful tips in mind when utilizing social media:

  1. Use an up-to-date anti-virus application to ensure the safety of personal computers.
  2. Don’t click on links or attachments if you are unsure of the source.
  3. Be wary of unexpected Facebook friend requests.
  4. Learn how to use Facebook privacy settings and utilize them.
  5. Understand the threat created by geo-tagged photos.
  6. Blog responsibly.
  7. Don’t trust “add-ons” and third-party software.
  8. Educate your family about the dangers of using social media and how to mitigate the danger.

Cyber threats against networks, Sailors and family members are real and continue to evolve. We all need to do our part to make sure complacency isn’t an additional threat.

NIOC San Diego conducts cyber operations, information operations and electronic warfare for Naval and joint forces. The command enables improved IO, EW, cryptologic and cyber readiness through Fleet training, assessment and augmentation. NIOC San Diego is a part of the Navy’s Information Warfare Community, which is led by the Navy’s newest type command, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR).

NAVIFOR's mission is to support operational commanders ashore and afloat by providing combat-ready Information Warfare forces, which are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned and capably equipped.

For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command's web site at www.navifor.navy.mil, our Navy News Web page at http://www.navy.mil/local/navidfor/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces/.

Communications Technician Chief Petty Officer Schrone Hardeman, a Sailor at Navy Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego, provides a social networking safety brief to the command’s Sailors Jul. 27, 2016.  Photo courtesy of Cryptologic Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Nelson, Navy Operations Command San Diego.
Communications Technician Chief Petty Officer Schrone Hardeman, a Sailor at Navy Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego, provides a social networking safety brief to the command’s Sailors Jul. 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of Cryptologic Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Nelson, Navy Operations Command San Diego.

Communications Technician Chief Petty Officer Schrone Hardeman, a Sailor at Navy Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego, provides a social networking safety brief to the command’s Sailors Jul. 27, 2016.  Photo courtesy of Cryptologic Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Nelson, Navy Operations Command San Diego.
Communications Technician Chief Petty Officer Schrone Hardeman, a Sailor at Navy Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego, provides a social networking safety brief to the command’s Sailors Jul. 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of Cryptologic Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Nelson, Navy Operations Command San Diego.
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