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Conference focuses on importance of cyber security at Randolph

By Robert Goetz | 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs | July 22, 2009

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Two of Randolph's top leaders emphasized the need to secure the Air Force's part of cyberspace during the base's first-ever Network Administrators Conference this week. 

Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, told the information assurance officers gathered at the Lahm Conference Center on Monday that the Air Force depends on them as it strives to claim cyberspace as a "core competency." 

"It's an exciting time to be alive," he said. "This is your time and this is your place." 

General Lorenz said the Air Force can claim air and space as core competencies. But he said the Air Force is still "in 1909" in its effort to secure cyberspace. 

"Cyberspace, in my personal opinion, we can't claim as a core competency yet," he said. "We're not there yet." 

Col. Jacqueline Van Ovost, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, told the "cyber warriors" that she is one of their "biggest advocates out there" and that they need the right tools to secure cyberspace. Like General Lorenz, she said the Air Force is "not there yet." 

"In actuality, we don't do it that great compared to some civilian firms," she said. "For right now, we have to prove ourselves." 

Colonel Van Ovost said incidents such as air crashes affect one mission, but network intrusions affect all missions. 

"If a worm gets into the network and gets deep enough, all missions are grounded," she said. "That's a pretty big deal." 

The conference, with its theme "Cyber Security, the Invisible Man," emphasizes the importance of cyber security at Randolph, said DeWayne Thomas, 12th FTW computer security manager and coordinator of the event. 

"The attendees at this conference are the defenders of the Randolph Enterprise Network," he said. "They are the ones who are responsible for protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the Randolph Enterprise Network. They are the first defenders in Randolph cyber defense." 

Mr. Thomas, who assists all base organizations and mission partners in the development and management of their computer security programs, said the purpose of the two-day conference was to "heighten the awareness and importance of cyber security and its impact, not only at Randolph Air Force Base, but in the Air Force as a whole." 

Gene Boedigheimer, 12th Communications Squadron director, called the conference "fantastic." 

"Information assurance officers at Randolph received briefings on the actual threats out there from countries like China, Russia and Iran and views from our top leaders," he said. "They were able to interface with their counterparts from all over the base." 

Mr. Boedigheimer said the presence of leaders such as General Lorenz and Colonel Van Ovost underscores the importance of cyber security and the jobs of information assurance officers. 

"They're saying this is important to me as a senior leader," he said. "If my computer doesn't work, I can't do my job." 

Mr. Boedigheimer also said the senior leaders showed they "understand that a single intrusion has to be dealt with right away." 

Mr. Thomas said the 12th CS is making "great strides" in the area of network security. 

"But we know there's still a lot of work to do," he said. "The enemy's out there. There's always something we have to protect against." 

Mr. Thomas said some of the goals of the conference were to understand the enemy on the cyberspace battleground, getting people to understand that Randolph is engaged globally and to enhance the awareness level of all Airmen at Randolph so they can better protect the security of the base's networks. 

Mr. Boedigheimer and Mr. Thomas said Randolph is an especially "high-value target" for cyber criminals because it's the headquarters for AETC, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Recruiting Service and other important organizations that possess "tons of records." 

General Lorenz, who likened each computer at Randolph to the base's front gate, told the information assurance officers they are the cyber warriors who are fighting the battle in this "whole new world." 

"Cyberspace is fraught with danger," he said. "But you know something? I look at it the exact opposite. It's exciting. It's fun. It's neat."