Keesler AFB cybersecurity program prepares to meet threats head on – WLOX

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – It’s a fear we live with every day: getting our identities stolen by computer hackers. It’s something the military faces as well; a hack could cripple our national defense.
But, Keesler Air Force Base is ready to fight back with high-tech training. In the cyber world, you have to fight bad keystrokes with good keystrokes.
“The threat is up in our face, and we are at that line every day,” said MSgt. Tanner Thompson, operation superintendent for the 333rd Training Squadron.
Tech Sgt. Nicholas Lines puts the threat into a frightening perspective.
“We don’t get necessarily bombed on a daily basis,” he said. “We don’t get struck by maybe a terrorist attack on a daily basis. But we’re getting hit by cyber, everyday all the time.”
“Because the cost to buy-in to cyber is pretty low,” Lines said. “An internet connection, Google and a computer and you can start learning day one on how to commit cybercrime.”
So, the 333rd Training Squadron takes its cyber security mission very seriously.
“It is one of the arrows in our quiver,” Thompson said. “It’s an extremely valuable ability to have. It’s an extremely important domain of war.”
Students start off simple and get complex quickly.
“We are as prepared as we possibly can be while facing the unknown,” Thompson added. “We operate in a very ambiguous and ever-changing environment, but we adapt very rapidly.”
Part of the reason is that many of these new-wave warriors are already tech savvy.
“They see a lot of things in the news, and they see this career field is right on the edge of that fight and they just want to be part of it,” said TSgt. Jason Verges, 333rd Training Squadron instructor.
Thompson has faith in the future with this program.
“I think that we train the greatest students that we ever have,” he said. “We train the greatest cyber operators that we ever have on both the officer and enlisted side.”
“At the end of the day, there are fights to be had. And, whether you’re fighting boots on the ground or you’re fighting behind the computer, both are relevant to where we are today,” Verges added.
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