Helping combat cyberspace attacks

  • Published
  • By Information assurance office
  • 82nd Communications Squadron
On a daily basis, adversaries continuously try to gain unauthorized access to our computer network by bombarding it with malicious e-mail. 

It sounds like the type of battle that only a communications troop is equipped to fight. However, as a network user, you are just as important because you have the ability to help reduce the threat and secure the network by applying digital signatures and utilizing encryption when necessary. 

In a February 2007 memo "Air Force Public Key Infrastructure Policy on Encrypting and Digitally Signing E-mail Message," from Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, chief information officer, he mandates and explains how certain e-mail messages require these two key components. 

According to this new Air Force policy, "digital signatures shall be used whenever it is necessary for the recipient to be assured of the sender's identity, have confidence the message has not been modified, or when non-repudiation is required." 

For example, e-mail communication that formally directs an airman, government employee, or contractor, that specifies an Air force official position on any matter, and that authorizes or denies the use of funds should be digitally signed. 

In other words, apply a digital signature to any message that is related to official business. E-mailing your buddy across the hall and asking what he had for lunch is not considered official business. 

The second key component to defend against the e-mail cyber threat is through encryption technology. General Peterson's memo, as well as Air Education and Training Command Instruction 33-107, E-mail Management Program, requires that any e-mail that contains sensitive information be encrypted, including For Official Use Only or Privacy Act material. 

Be sure to remember next time when you send an e-mail that contains sensitive information, such as Social Security Numbers or home telephone numbers, to exercise caution and adequately safeguard it by utilizing encryption. 

The e-mail cyber threat is real and it is our duty to serve as information warfighters by correctly employing digital signatures and encryption. 

For more information and assistance with setting up digital signatures and encryption in your e-mail client, please contact your unit information system security officer or client support administrator.