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Cyber hygiene extends 'beyond the uniform,' AF says

When it comes to cybersecurity awareness, the Air Force wants to spread the message beyond the Defense Department.

The Air Force has been pushing cybersecurity awareness "beyond the uniform" to educate service members’ families to better protect the DOD, Air Force Chief Information Security Officer Peter Kim said.

"My spouse at home, my children who are online, even my parents, if they're not cyber-safe and cyber-secure it affects me and the workplace," Kim said. "Let’s make sure that the total force, the family, is also secure."

Since September Kim said he and teams have been sent to several air bases to educate service members, their spouses, children, parents and grandparents on what cybersecurity hygiene means, what threats are and how to protect children from identity theft.

"It hit home for me last year when my father at home was getting spear-phishing attacks about bank accounts, [requests] for passwords," Kim said. "I found myself at work worried about him. And I realized that not only do airmen have to be aware of these cybersecurity threats."

The effort follows the massive Equifax security breach that affected more than 143 million consumers, sparking congressional investigations into companies’ cybersecurity practices and a push for more consumer awareness -- even in the DOD.

Ken Bible, the deputy director of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Command, Control, Communications and Computers Department (C4) and the USMC deputy CIO, said that social media awareness has been a challenge as younger Marines use it in their daily lives. One specific threat: online impersonators of high-ranking military leaders.

"One the areas we’ve found ourselves spending some time on is the evolution of 'evil twins,' which is what we call someone taking on the identity of a senior leader and trying to lure a young Marine into giving them bad directions or asking them for funds," he said.

As a remedy, the USMC has established relationships with major social media companies to help disable fake accounts, but it’s a persistent threat that requires flexibility and vigilance.

"It’s an area where our young folks live daily, and we’re going to have to adapt to those realities," Bible said.

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