NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Information Assurance (IA) awareness training is now required of all users of Department of Defense information systems, as stated in a message released May 9 by the Department of the Navy's Chief Information Office and the Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM). IA training must be completed no later than Sept. 1 as a condition of being granted access to a computer system.
The course is DOD Information Assurance Awareness (DOD-IAA-V2.0) and is available at Navy Knowledge Online at https://www.nko.navy.mil. The course is required by all Department of the Navy personnel who have access to DoD computers, including active duty, Reserve, retired, Navy civilians and contractors. The entire course takes about half an hour to finish, depending on connection speed.
IA is the practice of ensuring the correct information gets to the correct person at the right time. That can only happen if personnel take measures to protect both their personal data and any computer systems their data might be on.
The course on NKO explains the importance of classified information and how to safeguard it from unauthorized users, both inside and outside the workplace.
"The course shows people what to be on the alert for," said Mike Knight, an Information Assurance training specialist for NETWARCOM. "This will ultimately help secure the global DoD grid. Since DoD networks ride on the same commercial infrastructure as everything else, the Navy must protect its network. Practicing IA will help keep classified or sensitive material secure, and provide an additional layer of defense for our networks and help ensure availability for only authorized users."
One tool to protect the network is the Common Access Card (CAC). This card contains an encryption code which can scramble information a user does not want anyone else to have access to. Another tool is personal security, which is the protection of computer passwords from unauthorized exposure. Strong passwords are a good defense, Knight explained, especially those that aren't based on words found in the dictionary. He offered an example of a poor password choice: "wishbone."
"Simply being flippant with a password can be detrimental," explained Knight. "A person with minimal IT knowledge could use your account to their advantage.
"This training is important because every user is charged with doing their part for IA," Knight continued. "It is people that serve as the first line of defense in the Navy's Computer Network Defense in Depth strategy."
To begin the course, log on to https://www.nko.navy.mil and launch "Navy E-learning." Select "browse categories" and then "U.S. Department of the Navy." Personnel must then select "Information Assurance (IA)."
Those who finish the course should print a hard copy of the certificate found under "My Transcripts" and provide a copy to their command Information Assurance manager.
"Any threat, intentional or unintentional to the DoD is not acceptable," said Knight. "Anybody who fails to complete this task potentially leaves everyone else open to vulnerability. This is why it is important to have this training. It is a privilege to wear a uniform or serve as a DoD civilian. At the end of the day, our job is to defend this nation, and our people are the first line of defense."
The course is to be completed by new personnel as a condition of being granted an account, and must be renewed annually. It's required, but it doesn't take long to complete. In fact, those that took it found it easy to use.
"I'm not a computer techie and I understood everything," recalled Chief Boatswain's Mate (DSW/SW) Wesley J. Mason of the Maritime Force Protection Command at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, who took the course in advance of the deadline. "I learned about some of the programs that computers have installed already on them can be bad - that can send out information you do not want jeopardized. There were certain points brought up that I did not know and were very well worth my time."
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