Defending the cyberspace runway

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Krystina Watkins
  • 86th Communications Squadron
The Command Cyber Readiness Inspection scheduled for March 14 through 25, is a Defense Information Systems Agency-led inspection of the security posture of Ramstein's network.

This assessment takes an in-depth look at the policies, procedures and technical capabilities in place on Ramstein, ensuring classified and sensitive information created, transmitted and stored is protected from unauthorized disclosure.

Repercussions for failing a CCRI can include disconnection from the Department of Defense Information Network and the isolation of all government computers on an installation.

In the cyberspace domain, the U.S. Air Force is always operating in a forward-facing environment of trusted relationships where a single weak link can endanger the entire DOD. Readiness is essential to ensure cyber attacks are held at bay. Due to the literal light speed of intrusion attempts, it is essential to be ready now.

The 86th Airlift Wing's mission is to generate and employ air mobility and operate key Air Force power projection platforms. But did you know it also operates as a power projection platform in cyberspace as well? On Ramstein you'll find a "third runway," where operations are supported daily via both terrestrial and satellite links.

While the 86th Communications Squadron takes a leading role in authorizing administrators, operating and maintaining base infrastructure and serving the vast majority of customers in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the 86th AW is not the only unit inspected under the CCRI.

The KMC is home to 13 different full-time communication units, including the enterprise hub for the majority of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's information technology services, as well as numerous organizations with information technology personnel dedicated to operating and maintaining discrete mission-enabling systems.

In addition, there are four internal domains that reside within the greater Ramstein network that receive a full concurrent CCRI on their own and get tied to the overall Ramstein score. All this adds up to an inspection of a cyber footprint larger than all U.K. Air Force bases combined.

Do Airmen know they are the first line of defense when it comes to the security of Ramstein's network?

Contrary to conventional belief, attacks on the U.S. do not have to take the form of large coordinated government funded efforts. Be on alert for insider threats. Don't be afraid to report suspicious activity to your security manager.

Below are some tips on how users can do their part to keep Ramstein secure.

· Log out and restart Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router computers at the end of the day, but do not power them down.

· Only plug authorized USB storage devices into government computers. USB drives are a vector for malicious logic and can expose the Air Force Network to intrusion.

· Do not leave Common Access Cards unattended. Violators may be held accountable for illicit activity originating from computers accessed using their CACs.

· Get to know the unit information assurance officer. They're responsible for opening trouble tickets and acting as a focal point for all cyber security matters.

The 86th CS is working hard to do its part to ensure the base network is configured properly and compliant with DOD policies, but every Airman -- big "A" -- plays a role in keeping Ramstein's network secure.

Now armed with these tips and an understanding of the role the 86th AW plays in cyber preparedness, Team Ramstein's challenge is to do its part in protecting security.