Commander’s Column: Protecting against cyber threats is shared responsibility

We are living in an era where we are more interconnected than ever before. Not only do we rely on email to conduct our business, but the emergence of online commerce has made many of us reliant on the Internet to meet our day-to-day needs.   

With all the convenience the Internet provides, it should also come with a warning label.  Increased connectivity brings an increased risk of crime, which is why cyber security should be forefront in everyone’s mind, both on- and off-duty.

Military members have a big role to play in the realm of information security. Information operations are a real and emerging threat. Just as we would prepare for the battlefield, we must also be ready to safeguard the information that adversaries could use against us. 

And those adversaries are everywhere … in the form of hackers, spear phishers and terrorist groups. Email scams, fake websites and viruses are just a few of the methods used by these cyber criminals to get our personal information.  
Protecting your information, both professionally and personally, isn’t difficult if you follow a few steps.

The simplest way to safeguard information is not to divulge it. You should never share personal information with websites you don’t know and trust.  This includes your Social Security Number, bank account information, addresses, phone numbers … any personally identifiable information.

Changing your passwords regularly is another way to protect yourself online. Strong passwords include a mix of letters, numbers and special characters, and should be something that is not easy to figure out. Surfing the Internet has become America’s new pastime — as common now as watching television. 

While it’s fun, you really have to pay attention to what you’re looking at. Phishing websites, designed to look identical to others, are all over the Web, preying on users who can’t tell the difference. Make sure the address you’re surfing to is correct, and be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary, such as misspelled words and repeated requests for personal information. 

The Department of Homeland Security has a cyber security awareness  campaign that sums it up quite well … “Stop. Think. Connect.” I encourage you to visit their website for more information and tips.

Remember, cyber security has a direct correlation to force protection, so we must do everything possible to secure our information.