"What's all this fuss about Network Security?"

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason Mayne
  • 509th Communications Squadron deputy commander
Growing up, most of us didn't have a computer. Nor did any of our neighbors, or some 90 percent of my fellow Americans. Wow has that changed! 

However, instead of ranting about the cliché that "technology moves so quickly," I thought I'd inject a few opinions on some interesting things (based on my 29 years of breathing, seven in our Air Force) while our commander is out. At least I think they're interesting anyway... and most certainly highlight just what all the "fuss" is about!

First, I see a lot of confusion about the way the Department of Defense run their networks. We are not the University of Central Missouri. If you think about their purpose versus our purpose, you'll see one major difference, which incidentally, is the same for commercial businesses, home networks, etc. That is, why can't we patch things at work like we do on our home computers? The difference deals with rights, specifically administrator rights, which means that if everyone had rights to patch their own work computers, we'd probably collectively screw things up so badly that Whiteman's network, for example, could be down weeks at a time; have you ever hosed your own home PC? Thanks... I know I have. Let's leave it to the experts that have been hired and trained to do just that.

As I give my subliminal "shout out" to the comm experts out there, listed above, let's also not forget another aspect; that we're losing basic human relations factors, or I think we are. Agree? We text, email, BCC, CC, FWD, RE:, VPN, SDC, CNN and Google absolutely everything. The amount of work that can be accomplished using computers is awesome, and I appreciate the folks who enable that, but there's no substitute for getting up off our seats and speaking in person or using the phone. There's a quote out there something to the effect of: "nothing happened prior to 1945 - they didn't have computers then..." which really struck me as hilarious.

For my next observation, I'd like to point out that many people click a site and get the "page blocked - your IP address has been logged, etc." notification and think just because they get that, it means they're "safe" on the internet at work. NOT TRUE! Just because it "lets" you go there doesn't mean you should. Sadly, users (all of us) are one of the biggest threats to the network. Notice the thumb-drive ban? Yep... all of us as users are part of the problem.

So, not to beat a dead horse, please be careful out there and know that yes, the communications agencies try to prevent malicious code from executing, but it's not a fail-safe. You've gotta have your wits about you. Even at home - if you don't have McAfee antivirus software and computer security company or Norton provides malware prevention and removal during a subscription period, then frankly, you should. Yes, there are others, but to assume this risk you might want to check out annualcreditreport.com regularly!

Finally, I'd like to say something non-comm-like and assuming anyone's still reading; remind folks to be proud that you're part of an organization like the United States Air Force. We've come a long way in our heritage as a separate branch so let's keep it strong and show our pride. I'm talking about pride in everything from our unique customs and courtesies to the "wingman" concept to the ability to keep America's confidence in our ability to "fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace."