By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. - Air National Guardmembers at the Air Guard's Readiness Center on Andrews Air Force Base, Md., may soon have a friendly reminder to secure their Defense Department photo and data identification, "Common Access Cards" (CACs) when away from their computers, said its network security officials here this holiday week.
A pop up message will soon remind the Readiness Center's Airmen, federal workers and contractors to take their CACs with them when they leave their workstations. The computer chip embedded CACs are needed to access Defense Department networks as well as to electronically sign documents and enter military installations.
A message along the lines of "secure your CAC" will appear every so often as a separate window on Readiness Center computer screens.
"It's our way of reminding servicemembers to remove their CACs when they leave their workstations," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Brian DeWyngaert, an information assurance consultant and a Virginia Army National Guardsman. "It helps us prevent operational security issues."
At any given time, nearly 3.5 million unterminated or active CACs are in circulation, Defense Department officials report. Although DeWyngaert's team of network protectors are responsible only for Readiness Center Airmen, he said everyone is responsible for the security of the entire network. He said all military members need to review how they are protecting their CACs, daily. "Make that your New Year's resolution," he said.
He added that even greater vigilance is needed for using military laptops, off post. "It's crucial to make that extra effort to protect your equipment and your card," he said.
Since servicemembers also require their CACs to get on their installations, a friendly reminder here may also save Airmen the embarrassment of asking for security escorts to get back to work, said DeWyngaert.
"Remember, we need to take it with us anytime we leave our keyboards. Even though we may trust those around us, the threats remain," he said. "All it takes is just a moment on the network to create damage."