Safe Operation on the Ramstein Information Superhighway

by Master Sgt. Dennis Palmer
Wing Information Assurance section chief

All base personnel follow a standard education and certification process before operating on the Ramstein network. This is to ensure all individuals understand and comply with Air Force network operating principles. I equate it to a process similar to requirements for obtaining an overseas driver’s license.

Simply, you have to learn the rules before operating a motor vehicle to ensure your safety and the safety of others. In the case of the network, our process has been established to ensure the successful completion of our mission.

To further explain, a user is granted network access following a National Agency Check or equivalent, validated by unit security managers. Users are also required to complete Information Assurance training via the Advanced Distributed Learning Service website and provide the certificate of completion to unit Information Assurance Officers. 

Users will then sign a System Authorization Access Request, affirming acknowledgement of personal responsibilities while operating on the Ramstein network.

These responsibilities include completion of annual recurring information assurance training.  Failure to complete this requirement will result in a user’s account being deactivated until recurring training is accomplished.

Once you are on the information superhighway, efforts need to be taken to ensure you don’t speed.  In this case, some equivalents of speeding are plugging in USB devices without approval, attempting to upload inappropriate material to shared drives, or trying to access unauthorized sites. 

I realize from the user perspective, some of the network controls appear to be draconian measures.  However, these measures are essential to ensuring the protection of vital information we use to accomplish our daily mission.

We work in a no-fail environment and protection of our information is vital. Our adversaries are counting on us to be passive and make mistakes — it is King Comm’s responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen.

We must also be very careful of our actions when adversaries try to infiltrate the network. When faced with these actions we must take appropriate steps. Some examples include our response to phishing schemes and virus attacks.

If you are unaware what security measures to take in such an instance, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Computer Emergency Response Aid makes it very simple.  The visual aid is distributed by your unit’s IAOs and provides more than just assistance for network and virus attacks. It includes procedures for handling Classified Message Incidents, spam, suspicious emails, INFOCON level changes and email encryption processes. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember all this, just print the sheet and keep it next to your phone and the bomb threat checklist you already maintain. 

If you believe your computer or network to be under attack, stop using immediately. Disconnect the network cable and conduct a virus scan. Do not power or log off your computer. If after the scan you detect a virus, immediately contact your unit’s primary or alternate IAO.

If you are unable to reach an IAO, contact the help desk at 480-HELP. The IAO or help desk technician may have you complete a statement regarding the incident.
It is important to note all pertinent information relating to the incident, such as who was logged in, date and time of incident, any websites or attachments accessed, building and room number of user and any error messages or notifications received. 

Again, if that seems like a lot to remember don’t sweat, simply reach for your Computer Emergency Response Aid.