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Cyber expansions create security considerations

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Technological advances have put the world at the fingertips of anyone with connection to the Internet and during cyber security awareness month, Airmen and their families are reminded to remain vigilant when posting personal information.

"You have to assume that everyone is looking at it," said Col. Mary Hanson, the senior information security officer of the Air Force Office of Information Dominance and chief information officer. "Think: would my mom be proud if I put this out there?"

It's not just families looking at what Airmen are posting on social media sites; it's also employers and, more importantly, unfriendly sources, Hanson explained.

"Social media is a convenient tool but also a dangerous one," said Phil Withers, the Air Force Special Operations Command's deputy chief of information and cyberspace operations. "I think of using the Internet like I think of driving a car; it's a great tool but users need to be cautious."

According to Air Force Instruction 1-1, "Air Force Standards," even having unknown followers could constitute relationships that may affect determinations in background investigations associated with security clearances.

Security clearances are not the only things Airmen and their families need to be aware of in the cyber realm. It is estimated that about eight new users access the Internet every minute as technology spreads to developing countries. On average, there are 1 million victims of cyber-crime across the globe every day, and most of them are new Internet users who could have avoided the attack if they were more educated on cyber security.

"The goal of cyber security awareness month is to take steps to make sure you are not one of those victims in your professional network life and your home network life," said 2nd Lt. Kristoff Kalau, the 18th Communications Squadron officer in charge of cyberspace support systems.

There are steps Airmen and their families can take to help protect themselves against unwanted access to their personal information on social media:

· Set privacy settings on social media sites to restrict access to posts but do not rely on those settings to be a fail-safe
· Do not share information that you are not willing to share with the world, as some websites could leak information
· Do not post personal information such as your home address or phone number
· Disable locator functions on cell phones when not in use to avoid inadvertently giving away location
· Avoid posting travel plans and details of daily schedules
· Be aware of open Wi-Fi hot spots in public areas where information can easily be stolen from phones or tablets
· Do not publicize your association with military forces
· Be aware of unrecognized friends or followers on social networks

"The bottom line is you need to be aware of who is looking at your information," Hanson said. "You don't want to be a target, so be careful and be vigilant."

(Editor's Note: Erica Vega, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais, 18th Air Force, contributed to this article.)

(Information courtesy of Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - P)
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