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Homestead sets standards for cyber readiness

Senior Airman Ashley Wohl, 482nd Communications Squadron cyber surety technician, assists a customer with a computer issue at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., as part of the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection Aug. 4-8. The 482nd CS was the first to pass the grueling inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

Senior Airman Ashley Wohl, 482nd Communications Squadron cyber surety technician, assists a customer with a computer issue at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., as part of the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection Aug. 4-8. The 482nd CS was the first to pass the grueling inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- Members of Team Homestead applied flexibility and focus to blaze through a challenging Command Cyber Readiness Inspection Aug. 4-8.

The CCRI is a triennial inspection conducted by the Defense Information Systems Agency to assess the compliance status and operational readiness of Homestead's non-secure internet protocol router, NIPR. It also assesses the secure internet protocol router, SIPR, as well as traditional and physical security of base facilities.

Homestead ARB scored above the passing mark, earning 75.3 percent, the first reserve base to pass this grueling inspection.

"There are no 'Higher Headquarters Deficiencies' on the CCRI. This means a perfect network and base can score no higher than 85 percent," said Maj. Michael D. Wells, 482nd Communications Squadron commander. "The criteria are extremely rigid; even the smallest compliance error can cost a minimum of five percent right off the top."

The 482nd CS couldn't have accomplished such success without the help of Team Homestead, said Wells.

"I especially want to thank all of the Makos for putting their support behind this thing," said Wells. "The CCRI scope is way too broad for a single unit to succeed alone. The Wingman philosophy is well established here and it was apparent whenever problems arose."

Wells attributed much of the squadron's success to the flexibility and focus of everyone involved and the willingness to reach out to the major commands and other Air Force Reserve Command communications squadrons to ask for help.

"We worked 12 hour days and weekends to prepare for this inspection," said Senior Airman Ashley Wohl, 482nd CS cyber surety technician. "We did whatever it took to get all of our vulnerabilities within our strict standards, which were more stringent than the inspection required."

The 482nd CS scored extremely high in the technological area that consists of how up-to-date and properly configured the network equipment is and how well they keep vulnerabilities off their devices.

"We didn't just want to pass with minimums, we wanted to go above and beyond and really shine during the inspection," said Wohl.

They received a perfect score in the area that assess how well they communicate requirements with network customers and involve senior leadership in cyberspace issues.

"Even a flawless network will not pass the CCRI if there isn't strong buy-in from the base customers and senior leadership," said Wells. "This is where Homestead really shines and the inspection team definitely noticed this."

Cyber warfare has taken center stage in today's battlefield, and inspections such as the CCRI ensure Homestead ARB is prepared to withstand the challenge.

"Cyberspace is a doctrine-level battle domain now along with Air, Space, Land and Sea. Cyber-attacks happen daily across all DoD networks, including Homestead, so a standard network defense posture is required," said Wells. "It doesn't matter whether the base is Homestead or even the Pentagon; the level of network defense is the same."