Defending Tyndall AFB In Cyber Space
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves
May 5, 2022
Tyndall’s 325th Communications Squadron works with service members, civilian government employees and government contractors to improve and help solve problems with computer-based issues.
To keep Tyndall operationally ready to support a variety of missions, communications Airmen focus on maintaining software and hardware equipment, implementing technology modernization and delivering customer service fit to meet customers’ needs. The 325th CS client services section resolves communications issues not only for the 325th Fighter Wing, but also the many tenant units located on the installation.
From left, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryce Moorehead, 325th Communications Squadron communications focal point technician, and Tech. Sgt. Jommel Lazaga, 325th CS CFP noncommissioned officer in charge, solve a computer issue at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida on April 5, 2022. Communications Airmen must consider many factors when navigating technological communications, including computer security, communications security, operational security and information security. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)
“[Tyndall’s] tenant units rely heavily on the host unit,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Jones, 325th CS client systems flight chief. “We help with the overall user experience, finalizing patches and updates, making sure software and services are up to date, deterring bad actors and helping users understand their responsibility.”
Communications Airmen must consider a multitude of factors when it comes to navigating the ever evolving world of technological communications, including taking into account computer security, communications security, operational security and information security.
“There are so many security measures being pushed down through the network,” said Jones. “As cyber defense, we’re blocking thousands of adversaries per day so that we can be 100 percent focused on Tyndall’s mission.”
The unit’s current initiative is to modernize the IT infrastructure to provide the base with the latest technology that the Air Force has to offer.
“On average, Information Technology assets are replaced every three years, through the asset management program” said Senior Master Sgt. Darius Harper, 325th CS operations superintendent. “Resource advisors, IT account property custodians and unit leadership have to plan and work together to [fund and support] upgrades before the hardware and software expires.”
However, Harper explained it is important for users to remember to continuously maintain and educate themselves on “user responsibility.”
“When you notice your computer is running slow or software is about to expire you have to take action,” said Harper. “You have valid concerns and [we want to help] those concerns be voiced in the right area.”
The squadron has multiple systems in place to report issues and seek help from the technical professionals. According to Jones, the squadron understands when users get frustrated when their computers malfunction and the unit does care.
However, the unit must work according to priority by the “first in, first out” method. There are also Air Force-wide standards and procedures that the squadron has to take into account when working to modernize and solve issues.
“We must consider cybersecurity,” said Harper. “We have to run checks, filters, evaluate data, and sometimes apply security patches to ensure that we maintain control over potential vulnerabilities from outside influences and aggressors.”
Every time an operating system is upgraded, the Air Force relies on communications squadrons and their Airmen to effectively adjust for the gaps that arise when [operating system] platforms are phased out.
From front, U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Carlos Ochoa and Jillian Martinez and Airman 1st Class Clayton Montgomery, 325th Communications Squadron client systems technicians, reimage a laptop at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida on April 5, 2022. Reimaging refers to the process of installing a new operating system which can be required when older platforms are phased out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)
“It is important to recognize how far we have come,” said Harper. “Within the past year and a half or so, we have upgraded users’ storage capabilities from 30 gigabytes to 100, included one terabyte of cloud storage, 24/7 access to systems and virtual private network channels.”
“We’ve upgraded the infrastructure, power, speed and bandwidth,” Harper continued. “As the Installation of the Future, we are operating in a space no other base in the Air Force is. All BOTF functions involve the communications squadron in some way [as we] internally modernize for the long term future.”
With 6,000 computer users located on the installation and many responsibilities to maintain, squadron personnel ensure the availability of telephone and computer networks, IT adversary detection systems and wireless communications, just to name a few.
“Our guys do it all with a smile,” said Harper. “Failure is not an option.”
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