“Every single person in this room is being watched.”
This simple but alarming statement was the first of a number of eyeopening pieces of information provided by U.S. Army Eur-ope Information Technology Training Program instructor Bruce Grantham during a series of Social Networking Site Awareness training sessions held Oct. 22 at the Vogelweh Community Center.
“Because you are a member of the military community, everything that you do online is being monitored,” Grantham said. “And most of the time, those who are monitoring you do not have your best interests in mind.”
Cybersecurity and cyber threats are a constant concern for the U.S. Army, and protecting the Army network and information as well as people is essential to mission success. The military alone spends billions of dollars and millions of man hours in protecting networks from criminals and potential adversaries, Grantham said.
Protecting network infrastructure is just one element of cyber safety. It’s even more important for Army leaders, Soldiers, civilian personnel and family members to minimize risk and maximize online security.
“We are the weak link in everything,” Grantham said. “You can have the best security and the most up-to-date technology, but the bottom line is that individual people are the most vulnerable links when it comes to cybersecurity.”
Social media is an omnipresent force in modern life with more than 1.4 billion global users of Facebook alone, in a world with a population of 7.4 billion. As such, military leaders and cyber defenders emphasize the importance of responsible use of the Internet and social media during these community training sessions.
Alerting military family members and children is especially important, Grantham said. An innocent post such as, “My daddy is flying to Dallas from Baghdad today,” can place a service member at risk for security.
Throughout the training session, Grantham provided participants with real-world examples of Internet fraud and cyber scams. Using the example of “bait, hook and reel,” he showed how online “phishing” is very similar to catching a fish in a lake. Just as a fish is eager to take a worm off a hook, people make great “bait” for online criminals who appeal to a victim’s desire for love, money or assistance.
Grantham also provided participants links to a number of websites and tips they can use to help stay aware of current Internet criminal activity. Department of Defense sites such as www.defense.gov and the Army social media site
www.army.mil/socialmedia are great places to start, Grantham said. He also recommends that users ensure they keep their computer operating systems up to date and install anti-virus software.
The Department of the Army is also stressing the importance of online safety during its third annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month observation throughout October. This year’s theme, “Stay protected while connected,” coincides with National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. By creating a culture of awareness, cyber defenders throughout the government service aim to increase online operational readiness.
“Being aware of the threats and understanding that everything you do is public will force you to think twice online,” Grantham concluded. “The Internet is an archive of your life. Even if you delete it, it will not go away.”