The Air Force message is clear—October may be National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but with the continuous advancement of technology and evolving cyber threats, one month of cybersecurity awareness is no longer enough.
In a memorandum sent to Air Force personnel, Lt. Gen. William J. Bender, the Air Force’s chief information officer, said he was establishing the Chief Information Security Office and beginning a yearlong Cyber Secure campaign in October to address cybersecurity throughout the service.
“We must position cyber at the forefront of our thinking, planning, and operations,” Bender said. “Cybersecurity depends on every Airman, regardless of rank or job description. Every time you log onto a system, click on a link, download a file, or plug one device into another, we risk exposing our systems to exploitation.”
In other words, when it comes to cyberspace, everything is connected.
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“Every Airman who plugs an unauthorized device into a network or circumvents a security control on a maintenance loader needs to understand that he or she is creating vulnerabilities for our enemies to exploit,” Bender said.
Maj. Gen. Cedric D. George, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for logistics, said it’s important to emphasize at every echelon of command that data and information are primary reasons we must take cybersecurity seriously.
Data remains a strategic, operational and tactical asset. It’s as important to logisticians as fuel. No Jet Propellant 8, no airpower; no secure and synthesized log data, no airpower—period.
Maj. Gen. Cedric D. George, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for logistics
“Data remains a strategic, operational and tactical asset,” George said. “It’s as important to logisticians as fuel. No Jet Propellant 8, no airpower; no secure and synthesized log data, no airpower—period. We need every Airman to understand that cybersecurity awareness and the mission systems we connect to are inextricably linked, and we must be cyber secure.”
Air Force leadership also emphasized that the cyber domain is much more than the internet.
“While the internet is part of cyberspace, it is not all of cyberspace,” Bender said. “Any computer system capable of communicating with other computer systems in some way is part of cyberspace.
“A desktop computer, an avionics computer on an aircraft, a smart phone, an industrial controller, and the processors on a modern car are all part of cyberspace, although only some of them are routinely connected to the Internet. Most modern military equipment—from a humble truck to a B-2 (Raider) bomber—has some form of processor and is thus reliant upon and a part of cyberspace.”
Bender called on Airmen across the total force to start considering cybersecurity as part of their normal routine in the same way they’re accustomed to thinking about physical safety.
“It is not just the cyberspace warriors who need to adapt; operators and support personnel who focus on the physical domains also need to practice operating effectively in an environment of constant change where not everything works as expected,” he said. “Everyone in the total force must learn to think of cyberspace as a war-fighting domain. Mission assurance is not something created by technical experts alone.”