JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - In the wake of the Bradley
Manning and Edward Snowden security scandals, as well as White House
accusations of Chinese hackers attacking private and public systems
in the U.S., cybersecurity is more important than ever.
makes signal soldiers, like those found throughout 3-2 Stryker
Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, an integral part of
protecting the Army communication network, which they do by using
new technology and by extensively training individual users.
October 11, 2013 - In the wake of the Bradley Manning and Edward
Snowden security scandals, as well as White House accusations of
Chinese hackers attacking private and public systems in the U.S.,
cybersecurity is more important than ever. (U.S Army photo by Staff
Sgt. Christopher McCullough)
"Because an effective Army communicates what we're doing
all of the time, and because most of our communications are
done digitally over voice-over-internet-protocol phones or
through computers, making sure that we have a secure network
is our best defense,” said Capt. Andrew Nortrup, a
Kennebunk, Maine, native and commander of 334th Sig.
The importance of a secure network cannot be
understated, Nortrup said. If enemy forces had access to the
brigade's networks, they would be better able to cause
damage to U.S. forces.
"That's what we're trying to
prevent through cybersecurity, prevent the enemy from
getting in and knowing what we're doing," said Nortrup. "[We
are] always paying attention to the network.”
said that his Soldiers continuously monitor their networks
to ensure that enemies are not trying to attack or
Their computer systems also sends
up reports autonomously if they are attacked, similar to
what a soldier would do on the battlefield.
soldier gets in contact, he sends a report, 'I'm in
contact.' When one of our computers, routers, or servers
encounter something, it says 'hey, I just did this; this
just happened to me.' [We] monitor all that information to
make sure we're not seeing anything suspicious," Nortrup
The Army instructs its cyber warriors, like
those with 3-2 SBCT, that the best defense is having many
"[It's] what is called defense-in-depth
... so in the best-case scenario, if one system is
compromised there is another system that is checking that
one. It's a series of checks and balances," Nortrup said.
"So our piece of that ... is to make sure all the pieces are
running and all the different security checks are all
operational so that compromising a single piece doesn't
compromise the whole network.”
Signal soldiers within
the brigade also have the skills and expertise to respond to
an attack on the network and isolate possible damage.
Although securing the network from outside threats is
one of their key roles, 3-2 SBCT signal soldiers also work
hard to ensure that other soldiers within their organization
are trained to operate safely on the internet.
Alexander Bailey, a Goldsboro, N.C., native and signal
officer with 3-2 SBCT, said that his Soldiers provide
training on the dangers that exist in cyberspace. They also
teach the importance of securing personal information online
and how to safely manage social media privacy settings.
"That's really the main vulnerability of our network
[which is why we are] making sure our users are educated on
how to operate on the network securely,” Bailey said. “The
user element, I would say, is the most important element of
our cyber protection because our networks are pretty
hardened. The last place for our enemies to exploit our
weaknesses is with our user base.”
Secretary of the
Army John McHugh agreed in a memo dated Feb. 1, 2013,
mandating Information Awareness/Cybersecurity awareness
"Beyond required security training, we need
you to make certain that all of your soldiers, civilians,
and contractors understand the threat they pose to
operational security by not complying with IA/Cybersecurity
policies and practices," McHugh said.
Those practices can
also keep soldiers and their families safe at home.
"The best thing those family members at home, or anybody,
can do for cybersecurity is just be skeptical of what you're
looking at," Nortrup said.
Nortrup explained that
many cybersecurity attacks either use phishing or spoofing,
which can involve sending emails that look like they are
from legitimate businesses or organizations. When
individuals click on links or open attachments in those
emails, they are exposed to viruses or malicious software
that puts their computer system at risk.
step soldiers and their families can take to protect
themselves is having antivirus software installed and
"Make sure that your computer is updated
and make sure that you're using the most recent antivirus
definitions," Bailey said. "That's free from the Army.”
By U.S Army Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough
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