Defending Cyberspace: 87th Communication Squadron Cybersecurity Technicians

By Airman 1st Class Joseph Morales | 87 ABW Public Affairs | Oct. 28, 2020


Tucked away within the 87th Communications Squadron a group of Airmen work tirelessly to ensure that the warfighter is protected and prepared within cyberspace. 

Airman 1st Class Kyle Keaton, 87th CS cybersecurity technician, works alongside Staff Sgt. Andre Young, 87 CS NCOIC of Information Assurance, and three other Airmen to maintain systems, train personnel and implement countermeasures within the cyber domain to combat cyber threats.

“A cyber threat is anything computer related where the system can be harmed, and these threats can be anywhere from a printer, phone or even a workstation,” Keaton said. “It takes a lot of patience, attention to detail and knowledge to be in this career field.”

Cybersecurity technicians are responsible for dealing with internal systems involving anything with technology and information. This is broken down into three main subsections of cybersecurity: Communications Security, TEMPEST, and Computer Security.

”What COMSEC does is issue out the needed keys and different types of equipment so classified information stays encrypted,” Young said. “TEMPEST is the separation of Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Networks (NIPRNet) and Secret Internet Protocol Router Networks (SIPRNet). With COMPUSEC, we make sure that we limit vulnerabilities as much as possible with our systems, have different countermeasures against cyber threats and track cybersecurity incidents.”

Cybersecurity technicians rely on a wealth of knowledge and an attention to detail to accomplish the mission. Without the countermeasures that are tracked, an entire installation can be threatened. 

”There are so many little mistakes that can be made,” Keaton said. “If one number is messed up or if a hard drive is not approved for use, then our mission is not being accomplished. That’s why it’s important for us to be trained and knowledgeable.”

As technology and information become more ingrained in air and space operations, it is paramount for Airmen such as Keaton and Young to be the subject matter experts in cyber operations.

“When you have cybersecurity in place, it keeps all the information on the installation safe and protected,” Young said. “We’re here to prevent adversaries from getting the upper hand on us.”

With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, everyone can play a role by following these tips from the Wing Cyber Security team:

  • Use a strong password for accounts; avoid using patterns, sequential characters, and common words
  • Report any suspicious emails to your section CSL, Unit Security Assistant or the Wing Cybersecurity Office
  • Avoid using unauthorized storage devices on a government computer
  • Use two-factor authentication to reduce the risk of compromise to an account