News: Safeguarding information in the digital age
Story by Pfc. Garrett White
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - In an age where vast amounts of information are easily accessible by anyone with an Internet connection, safeguarding sensitive information is essential.
To help educate U.S. citizens on the importance of cyber security, both personally and professionally, October is recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness month.
Information is power, and the control and safekeeping of that information is critical, said Juan Rivera, installation information technology officer for Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.
“We (as users) have threats out there (who) would like to exploit our vulnerabilities,” explained Rivera. “Our mission within the IT community is to mitigate those vulnerabilities, and prevent those vulnerabilities from being exploited.”
IT technicians operate under three areas: confidentiality, integrity, and availability, said Rivera.
Confidentiality is to ensure that information sent electronically is received by only those who are meant to see it. Integrity is to safeguard the contents sent have not been modified before being received. Finally, availability is to make sure that the networks and servers that hold the information are up and accessible by users who need them.
MCLB Barstow has several measures and controls in place to help maintain cyber security, said Preetika Celmer, information assurance manager and cyber security manager here.
“We (S-6 base communications) have a well-rounded program that covers information assurance training and awareness,” explained Celmer. “We also cover physical security, certification and accreditation, encryption, and key management.”
In addition to the hardware and software measures put in place by S-6, annual cyber awareness training is required by the Department of Defense to access government workstations, said Rivera.
A lot of people don’t take that training seriously and ignore most of the information they are given.
“If you have to do it … you might as well take advantage of the information,” reasoned Rivera. “It’s not there just for your safety, but the safety of the installation and the Marine Corps as a whole.”
When at home people should adopt a similar philosophy when managing personal identifiable information; just as much as they would sensitive government information, Rivera added.
Social Security numbers, dates of birth, even a mother’s maiden name are all pieces of information that can be used to steal a person’s identity, or otherwise harm their life.
The only real defense is to be informed, said Celmer.
Being leery of what information is sent to whom, being able to spot the difference between a legitimate company and a scam when being solicited for personal information, and making sure any anti-virus or anti-spyware software running on the computer is up to date.
The S-6 has a monthly cyber security sense newsletter with tips and information on maintaining cyber awareness, said Rivera. In addition to that, us-cert.gov, ran by the Department of Homeland Security, has information on the latest online scams, computer viruses, and the latest methods to combat them.
“Cyber security is our shared responsibility and each of us makes a difference,” concluded Celmer. “Let’s be mindful in keeping cyberspace safe, so it remains an area of growth and opportunity for the future.”