ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
This year marks the 15th anniversary since the Department of Homeland Security dedicated the month of October to National Cybersecurity Awareness.
During the month of October, the 28th Communications Squadron has distributed weekly newsletters educating Airmen and their families about potential cyber related threats, in addition to providing tips on how to protect private information in the workplace and at home.
“Cybersecurity, to me, means [diminishing] the vulnerabilities our network receives every day,” said Airman Joseph Sheffield, a 28th Communications Squadron cybersecurity technician.
To protect the nation’s cyberspace, users are advised to pay attention to the emails and attachments they are opening.
”Email is the number one source of threats,” said Sheffield. “When at work, we need to be mindful of where [emails] are coming from by making sure they are signed and encrypted.”
Sheffield’s biggest concern at the moment is ransomware.
Ransomware is usually sent as a seemingly safe email attachment; the victim unknowingly opens it and downloads a malicious computer program. As a result, the individual’s personal data is compromised, and they become locked out of the files on their computer. Personal data and files can potentially be released if the victim pays a ransom.
“Ninety-two percent of all phishing emails have [ransomware],” said Sheffield. “[Victims] end up paying the ransom. Sometimes they will get their information back and sometimes they won’t. The average ransom amount ranges from $200 to $10,000.”
In addition to being proactive at work, internet users are encouraged to be vigilant at home by being cognizant of what they are posting online.
Sheffield recommends that internet users avoid posting sensitive information, such as full names, social security numbers and addresses.
Oversharing leaves users vulnerable to identity theft and other harmful predicaments.
“Be aware of online privacy settings, keep a clean machine, and build strong passwords,” said Sheffield.
Every work station has a Network Incident Reporting Aid by it providing all the steps needed to report a computer or telephone breach, said Sheffield.
The Air Force’s internet capabilities help maintain and improve mission readiness. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.