Whether serving on a surface vessel, a submarine, or a shore installation, one of the primary tasks of Naval Information System Technicians (IT) is to ensure that the various computer networks and computers connected to them are not only up and running at all times, but also operating at peak efficiency. Naturally, this means ensuring that all computers are running only essential software and preventing the installation of any unnecessary or potentially damaging applications.

The jobs of IT Security Technicians and Managers is made somewhat easier by the fact that U.S. Navy vessels afloat do not have Wi-Fi connections and thus are invulnerable to malware or viruses via the Internet. But this safety gap obviously doesn’t apply at shore installations, and the hard truth is that viruses were a threat long before network connectivity was ubiquitous. What’s more, a virus that might be little more than an inconvenience in the civilian sector can wreak substantially more havoc on systems that are linchpins in military operations. In 2009, the Conflicker virus infected millions of computers worldwide, including the computer networks used by the military in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France—and in the last case it resulted in the grounding of aircraft because their flight plans were unavailable for downloading.

Fortunately, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy began taking measures to ensure its information and communications systems nearly twenty years ago. In 1998, the Department of Defense instructed the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to create to develop a system that would alert system administrators and end users whenever a potential threat arose.

The Navy’s Information Assurance program is used by IT Sailors to detect possible threats and issue Information Assurance Vulnerability (IAV) Alerts measures detailing preventative. Security Technicians and Managers also issue IAV Bulletins and Technical Advisories to keep all network and computer users abreast of any threats or instruct them on any remedial steps that should be taken if malware or viruses do somehow enter the system

And the Navy has extended that level of protection to Sailors using home computers because computer forensic investigations had identified military personnel bringing files from their home computers as one of the main ways that viruses were entering and attacking government networks. Beginning in 2005, anti-virus suites from McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro became available free of charge for Sailors to install on their home computers.

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