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Defense Officials Talk Benefits of VPN, Telework Tools in Ensuring Network Security

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The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has detected a surge of cyber threats following its implementation of telework across the service branch, C4ISRnet reported Monday.

Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations at the Air Force, told attendees at a Joint Service Academy Cybersecurity Conference event that the service expanded its virtual private network (VPN) connections from 9,000 to 400,000 since the pandemic’s onset.

She said the 16th Air Force’s 616th Operations Center worked to “monitor those threats, conduct assessments [and] minimize the risk” to Air Force networks in an effort to reduce network vulnerabilities. The U.S. Army is also working to expand its VPN capabilities to cover internet access points, teleconferencing platforms and more mobile devices, according to C4ISRnet.

Officials from the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Navy have also said that tools for remote collaboration enabled users to securely implement telework operations, the publication noted. According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Cyber Command, the combination of VPNs and tools such as Microsoft’s teaming applications helped mitigate reliance on unauthorized products for telework.