October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to focus on the practices to ensure our computer networks remain safe and secure.
The cyber threat we face today is pervasive and increasingly sophisticated. Cyber threats from near-peer nations and rogue actors will continue to plague our military, government and private sector. Cyber attacks constantly threaten Army networks, information and personnel. It affects every one of us and can happen at any time, without warning. In the past year alone, there have been a number of high profile cyber “hacks,” both in the government and private sectors, resulting in massive breaches of personal data affecting millions of people.
Unauthorized systems, such as external devices and authorized systems without proper updates pose a threat to our network as they are not vetted. They provide a possible point of entry for malware and viruses that affects the thousands of users here at West Point by limiting access to, or altering information, and can negatively impact our mission. Damage from these activities spreads and can take weeks or even months to address and resolve, often causing irreparable harm to files and folders. The man hour and fiscal costs can be enough to render an organization's information operations ineffective for an extended period. DOD installations and universities are victims of this behavior more and more. However, simple steps with respect to access and updates can reduce the probability of an attack.
The only items authorized to connect to the USMA networks (both NIPR and DREN) are government issued devices, such as desktops, laptops, and printers. The exceptions to this are Apple and Android tablets that are appropriately provisioned with AirWatch accounts. Regardless of the device, the network is for CAC-credentialed and DOD authorized users only.
There are other ways you can prevent unauthorized access to our network. Don’t share your CAC card or pin with anyone else. In addition, please ensure that your device and its software are updated by leaving your system connected to the network and restarting once a day. Your systems require daily antivirus software updates. It also should be running the latest operating system version and other client software versions in order to limit vulnerabilities. This is a continuous requirement because organizations are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate DOD and .edu systems and networks. Your Information Management Officer or Department Computer Officer can answer any questions that you may have.
Social networking is an integral part of our lives and a great way to stay connected with others, but could also make you vulnerable to hacking and cyber crimes. Previously, I emphasized the importance of appropriate online behavior as it pertains to honorable living. Another aspect to appropriate and safe online behavior is keeping your personal information personal. Check your privacy and security settings and be cautious about how much personal information you post online. The more you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or criminal to use that information to steal your identity and access your data. Additionally, you could even become a target simply based on your connection to the Army or the government.
Working together, we all play an important role in keeping our networks, information and personnel safe from harm via cyber attacks.
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr.