Cyber awareness: Protecting your personal information online

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ilyana A. Escalona
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

The Internet is a place filled with a variety of info including the latest fashion trends to Facebook updates about what flavor latte someone had this morning. On that same Facebook page, a person who put all their personal information out there for anyone to grab including their place of work, where they live and the names of their family and friends. Our 2017 mind thinks that if one person puts it all out there, then we all can.

This is the mentality many people have had about cyber safety since the advent of email and social media. Some still make sure that certain data about themselves is protected while others believe that there is no real protection.

In all reality, anyone can find statistics about you if they were to put your name into a search box and click, “go.”

I sat down with Master Sgt. Mark Love, 49th Communication Squadron section chief for quality assurance, to get more information and knowledge for Internet users on how to protect themselves on the Internet.

“Can I show you something?” asked Love.

I agreed and watched him pull out two folded pieces of paper and a yellow sticky note.

My eyes widened as he began to read off some of my personal information that I had not shared online including my middle name, home of record, and the name of my technical training school. He even showed me photos of some people I knew and a screenshot of an old social media page that I had not used in years.

Prior to this conversation, I thought I was safe from having my personal data shared on the Internet.

“I got all that information from a quick 20-minute search,” Love said. “Imagine all the information I could have grabbed if I was an adversary who took an entire day to dig up information on you.”

Nobody is immune to having their personal information collected and used.

“Phishing is an attempt by a hacker to get into your network,” said Love. “What they will do is send you a fictitious email where it will ask to get some information from you, or they will have you click on a link.”

This link has a code within it and can give the adversaries access to your network by using your credentials to impersonate you.

“You can fall victim to a phishing attempt if you are not paying attention,” said Maj. Sean Beasley, the 49th Wing Inspector General office’s director of exercises.

Holloman underwent a phishing exercise in which a group of network users was sent fake emails trying to access their personal data.

“The best thing about the exercise is that most were able to spot the fake email and report it to their cyber security liaison,” said Beasley. “It is very important that we protect our information because if our adversaries were to ever get into our network, they can cause serious harm to our personnel.”

Love mentioned that in 2013, Target shoppers had their credit card information stolen because a hacker was able to access the network through a third party’s authorizations. He also mentioned that at one point, the entire country of Georgia had been shut down because of phishing and computer hacking.

If you ever suspect that you have received any unsolicited information or advice through your email, report it to your cyber security liaison.

“When it comes to phishing and cyber security, the best thing to do to protect yourself at both home and work is to make sure you are cautious and aware of what you are doing,” Love said. “If you see an email that doesn’t look right, just go ahead and delete it.”