Cyber security vital to base operation

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Ryan Lackey
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Protecting your possessions is a habit commonly ingrained into us from an early age. We’re encouraged to put away our things, lock the car, bolt the door and set the alarm against any who may wish to steal from or harm us.

This has come to include digital valuables, with the threat of information and identity theft becoming increasingly commonplace.

While securing information is important for everyone, it is even of greater importance to Airmen and military dependents who have potential access to sensitive information that could be harmful were it to fall into the wrong hands.

“You only have to flip on the TV in the past few years to hear about data breaches, hacking attempts and identity theft,” said Mr. Robert Meyer, 92nd Communications Squadron wing cyber security officer. “It’s amazing the number of people out there trying to do bad things with a computer. I hear about it constantly from my associates, as every day brings many new attempts to snatch information from us.”

Virtually every mission across the range of military operations depends on cyber security. The Air Force depends profoundly on the capabilities provided by information networks to execute missions in air, space and cyberspace.

“U.S. networks get poked from locations around the world, thousands of times a day,” said Airman 1st Class Michael Singer, 92nd CS cyber systems surety apprentice. “Cyber security encompasses everything we do with communicating data and it’s our job to ensure that there are systems and procedures in place to guarantee it’s secure.”

The Pentagon reported that cyber operators blocked more than 1.3 billion malicious connection attempts in 2016, denying access against increasingly innovative adversaries.

“I may be just a junior Airman, but I have a clearance and could potentially access secure information,” Singer said. “That makes me a target for identity theft or blackmail, not because of what I have, but what I could access.”

Cyber security begins with Airmen’s individual awareness, understanding what information qualifies as personal identifying information (PII), for official use only (FOUO) or classified. Knowing how to protect that information can take several forms, such as a simple lock and key for physical items and can get as technical as encrypting files.

“Everyone has a role to play; such as simply removing your [Common Access Card] when you walk away from your computer,” Meyer said. “It’s not a big deal if your co-worker sees what you’re working on, but if a visitor glances by, they now have access to your system and card. It may sound paranoid, but that’s how we make sure bad guys don’t access our information.”

Everybody should understand that the security of our information is incredibly important, as vital details that could put people in harm’s way could come from something as simple as a schedule, Meyer added.

Systems would be vulnerable without adequate protection, making it incredibly difficult to safely organize flying missions, move resources and keep Airmen and their family’s personal information secure. It’s a vital component of the engine that drives the mission at here at Fairchild and throughout the Department of Defense.

“We are the ones that build the digital walls and gateways that secure our information. You can think of us as information gate-guards that help keep everyone safe,” Meyer said. “Without these protections, the base would be open to all kinds of digital attacks.”

Securing against attempts to get information is just as important for Airmen at home as it is at work. Increasing knowledge and awareness is the best thing anyone can do to assist in cyber security and not become a liability.

“Taking a few extra moments to make sure something is secure is the right thing to do, as it protects not only the safety of the data, but also of your fellow Airmen,” Meyer said.

Airmen selected for cyber systems surety are required to have a good armed services aptitude vocational battery (ASVAB) score, an attention to detail and a penchant for computing systems. Computer systems affect all aspects of life today both in the Air Force and the civilian world, making this a job in high-demand.

“I’m learning a lot of information that I thought I’d never comprehend, how networks work, ways data is protected and methods others may use to obtain and sell information,” Singer said. “You need an appreciation for background information, the less interesting details that help explain how everything functions and what really happens when you submit information. A lot happens online that you don’t see.”

Cybersecurity Airmen won’t be found doing dramatic feats of bravery, roughing it in the wild or parachuting from aircraft. However, these specialists are the “tip-of-the-spear” when it comes to executing missions, as they enable all facets of base operation to proceed, Meyer said.

For more information about Cyber Security positions or to contact a recruiter, contact your Career Assistance Advisor or visit to find a recruiter near you.