It’s about connection: Information Technology team keeps AFMAO online

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Katie Maricle
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Every Air Force entity requires a strong sense of cybersecurity to maintain mission success. With a no-fail mission at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, that sense of cybersecurity is even more important. The four-member Information Technology team at AFMAO keeps connections safe and secure. Those connections reach far and wide.

“The importance of cybersecurity here is that we provide that connection – everything is about connection,” said Robyn Yoder, AFMAO Information Systems security officer.  The connection home to bring back our fallen is what we focus on. If we can’t communicate with the families, with everybody that it takes, even amongst ourselves, then we have the potential to fail and that’s not an option.”

Due to time and geographical differences between operating locations, online-based communications are often the sole means of getting information where it needs to go.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and is designed to increase awareness about the importance of strong cybersecurity practices. At AFMAO, those practices are crucial, and falling short is not only discouraged but potentially dangerous. User error when it comes to cybersecurity practices can reap drastic and long-term inconveniences and consequences.

“You risk not being able to access the network, your account being locked, having your computer confiscated, being investigated or losing your mobile capabilities, said Space Force Sgt. Jenna White, AFMAO client support technician. “All of these things hinder the mission, and most are out of our hands to correct.”

White, who became the first Guardian to join AFMAO earlier this year, is the newest member of the IT team and said the skill and support of her team makes the mission not only successful, but enjoyable.

“I like that we all have different perspectives and strengths to bring to the table. We all tend to do things a little differently but we respect and acknowledge each-others points of view and that helps us all grow as a team,” she said.

When COVID initially shut down in-office work last year, the IT team established immediate teleworking practices that minimized interruptions to the mission, and set the stage for cybersecurity success for AFMAO both in the office and at home.

“[COVID and teleworking] showed we aren’t just a support function, we’re an operational requirement,” said Yoder. “We all bring something different to the table, and we all have expertise in a certain area.”

The transition both to and from teleworking also offered the chance to increase education and training to AFMAO Airmen so they can be more self-reliant in their cybersecurity practices. Both Yoder and White said that education helps empower Airmen to correct small issues on their own quickly and feel more confident in their abilities.

Whether in the building, at a remote location or in their own home, AFMAO Airmen have been able to keep up with the mission online thanks to the cybersecurity program created by the IT team, ensuring whatever is on the horizon will not hinder our ability to provide dignity, honor and respect to the fallen.