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18th CS promotes Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. (Courtesy photo)

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. (Courtesy photo)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Cyberspace is quickly becoming one of the biggest threats to not only national security, but to personal security of every individual as well. Every Airman has the responsibility to practice Operational Security (OPSEC) and ensure that they do not make it easy for cyber criminals to access sensitive information.

October marks the 12th annual Cyber Security Awareness month created by the Department of Homeland Security. Kadena's 18th Communications Squadron cyber samurais are spearheading the initiative here.

The goal of Cyber Security Awareness Month is to raise awareness to the average internet user to keep information of themselves and others safe online.

It is important for 18th Wing personnel to be educated on the threats that they may see. The 18th CS has already started am awareness campaign through American Forces Network.

One of the main focus' of this year's Cyber Security Awareness Month is sextortion, the act of luring somebody to send inappropriate content or pictures in an attempt to black mail them. Sextortion criminals often pose as women online and try to engage in a sexual relationship through the internet.

"You see beautiful a woman online, things happen and you end up having a risqué conversation and send some inappropriate pictures and the next thing you know you're getting black mailed," said 1st Lt. Jacob Blasbalg, 18th CS officer in charge of cyberspace operations. "So being aware that threat exists here is enough to warrant some concern and for people to protect themselves."

The best way to deter these attacks is to not send anything of that nature over the Internet.

"The Internet is really good at holding you accountable," Blasbalg said. "Once you send something out there is no way to guarantee getting it back and it will be out there forever. There are websites that exist on the internet solely for the purpose of archiving websites."

Another focus this year is home network security such as using a strong password for their wireless Internet.

"That's nothing really new or ground breaking, but you would be surprised how many people are using old routers with old encryption standards or don't change the default password that comes with the router," Blasbalg said. "That makes it very easy for a nefarious actor to gain access to their network."

Cloud storage is especially vulnerable if safety efforts are not up to standard, making it easy for attackers to access a great deal of private information.

Blasbalg also warned about connecting to unsecure wireless networks, as some may be a trap to lure in victims into giving access to attackers.

"When you go through airports and see free Wi-Fi, unless you see endorsements such as posters on the wall showing free Wi-Fi, you probably shouldn't connect to it," Blasbalg said. "People will set up what looks like a free wireless hotspot in an attempt to access a device."

Practicing proper OPSEC is an important part of keeping cyber systems safe and secure. Many OPSEC violations are now coming from social media posts, whether it be the service member posting about troop or equipment movements, or dependents talking about loved ones being deployed. Practicing proper OPSEC helps keep personal and government information secure.

"It's like posting a picture online," said Blasbalg. "It's out there forever,"

The 18th CS is dedicated to keeping Airmen safe through cyberspace.

"Our focus is on our Airmen and we have individuals who work hard every day to make sure we have the best possible service to our customers," said Blasbalg.

For more information, visit https://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/landing-page/