How does Coast Guard Cyber Security keep our everyday systems operating safely?

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Written by Chief Warrant Officer Rich Dawson.

The increased use of computing devices and networks has provided us the ability to communicate, analyze and share data more efficiently, but also provides an increased opportunity for exploitation. When critical government systems experience outages, reduced performance or data loss due to attacks, compromises or other intentional criminal acts, the affects can have serious consequences. These affects can range from minor inconveniences to life-endangering scenarios depending on the system and use.

During a recent congressional hearing, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. warned Congress that a major cyber attack could cripple our country’s infrastructure and economy, and suggested that such an attack poses a greater overall threat to the United States than a physical attack by any global terrorist network.

What is Coast Guard Cyber Security?
The purpose of the Coast Guard’s Cyber Security and Information Assurance programs is the protection of all of our IT systems, networks and data from unplanned outages, unauthorized modifications, destruction or access.

Why is cyber security important?
In order to securely process, share, store and transmit enormous amounts of data across networks to other computing systems, we need to make sure the proper policies and procedures are in place to consistently safeguard the equipment and data the systems store and process. These policies and procedures are continually updated to keep pace with the increasing volume and sophistication of cyber attacks. This process is never-ending and must adapt to ensure we are able to successfully safeguard critical systems and information that allow us to perform all of our operations while safeguarding national security.

What can you do to assist in mitigating risk?

• Always verify the sender of your received emails, especially if it contains an attachment. Virus mailers generally spoof the “From:” address field in their messages with an address that, at first glance, seems legitimate. Don’t hesitate to contact the sender to verify the legitimacy of a particular message. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a message or its attachment don’t open it, report it. Never click on suspicious e-mail attachments or suspect web links. Some of the most common infected files have the following extensions .bat, .com, .exe, .pif, .scr, and .vbs.

• Don’t click on suspected malicious pop-ups. If you are browsing the Web and an official-looking dialog box pops up asking if you want to download a browser plug-in, update your virus definitions. If a pop-up suggests you install some type of urgent security update, ignore it and close it without clicking on it.

• Have your unit join the HOMEPORT Cyber Security Community by emailing

Remember, “Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility!”

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