Health & Safety

October 10, 2013

Be more vigilant: Protect passwords, government systems

Brandice J. O’Brien
Tinker Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  — In an era when identities can be easily stolen and networks compromised, Air Force Sustainment Center officials are urging its network users to be more careful. By adhering to two requests, the number of attempted hacker intrusions and virus downloads can be drastically reduced.

Officials stress that network users should never plug non-government USB devices including cell phones and MP3 chargers into the system. Also, if user names and passwords must be sent via email, send them in separate and encrypted messages. That way if someone does hack into a message, he doesn’t have both the user name and the password. Air Force systems include the Air Force Portal, My Pay, Thrift Savings Plan and the Employee Benefits Information System.

“USB devices can easily spread malicious logic,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Gebert, 78th Air Base Wing Network Security noncommissioned officer in charge.

Prinston Wilson, 72nd ABW/SC Information Assurance officer who also handles network violations and credential disclosures, agreed.

“We pick up a lot of things on our cell phones. If you’re using your phone as a flash drive and saving to it, and it picks up a virus; once it gets into our system it work its way up,” Mr. Wilson said. “Credential disclosures have become a growing problem. Hackers can do a lot with your information. They can take your social security number, job history and personal data, put the data together and use it to gain access into other systems.”

In August, there were 12 reported AFSC violations, three for USB incidents and nine for account credential disclosures, or ACDs.

Mr. Wilson said oftentimes a credential disclosure occurs when a user is in a rush and sends their list of user IDs and passwords unencrypted through email to their personal email address. When these user IDs and passwords are sent unencrypted, they can easily be picked up by hackers and used to gain unauthorized access to government systems.

“Usually people keep the same password for a lot of systems and when hackers find out one password, they can figure out access into other systems,” he said.

If a USB violation or credential disclosure is found on a government system, the account is disabled and only a commander – colonel or above – can unlock the account. The commander will also have to fill out a memo explaining the incident and actions that were taken.

“USB violations have been reduced dramatically over the past eight months due to Group Policy Object capability being implemented,” said Ryan Moorman, AFSC Logistics Portal Content manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. “Robins Air Force Base, Ga., implemented this capability first and has had no USB violations since.”

The GPO capability is a policy that forces a computer to block a driver from being loaded when a flash device is plugged in. The driver is the necessary component that lets an operating system and flash drive communicate. Without a driver, a computer won’t read a USB, Mr. Moorman said.

“There is no steady trend of ACDs based off the statistics of the past six months, however due to the sudden rise in August, leadership looked to create awareness on the issues across the center,” Mr. Moorman said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

The new fight: Writing cyber into the science of war

Every year, the Aspen Security Forum brings together the top minds in defense, intelligence and homeland security. This year, more than ever, the conversation is turning to cybersecurity – protecting computer networks and everything attached to them. Cyber is constantly changing the way conflicts and combat unfold. Here, former U.S. Navy Rear Adm. William Leigher offers insights...
 
 

TRICARE now provides breast pumps, lactation counseling

Mothers that choose to breast feed their infants might be surprised to learn that TRICARE updated its coverage to include breast pumps and supplies as of July 1. TRICARE can aid expecting Desert Lightning Team mothers through the process to obtain a breast pump and supplies. There are multiple methods to receive a pump or...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Airmen to keep focus on safety at home

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — Airmen are constantly trained to be safe in everything while at work, but how safe are we when we arrive home? According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 93,200 unintentional i...
 

 

Mental health: To go or not to go

  CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada (AFNS) — (This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.) The clinic buildings themselves aren’t scary, but add the words ‘mental health,’ and most people will avoid them like they contain tigers on the loose. That’s...
 
 

PT exemptions for new AF mothers to increase

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The six-month deferment for female Airmen to accomplish their fitness assessments following childbirth will be increased to 12 months to align with recent changes to the deployment deferments, Air Force officials announced July 14. The deployment deferment policy, as part of the Air Force’s 2015 Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, increases the deferment...
 
 

Keeping Airmen healthy and informed through Operation Supplement Safety

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — For peak performance, Airmen should eat healthy and exercise regularly. But in the quest to gain an “edge,” many Airmen resort to dietary supplements. Enter Operation Supplement Safety, or OPSS. This Defense Department educational campaign, accessible at www.hprc-online.org/opss, educates the warfighter and healthcare provider on responsible dietary supplement us...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>