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104th Communications Flight cyber surety team, information gatekeepers

  • Published
  • By Randall Burlingame
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. - Shaun St.Clair, 104th Communications Flight information assurance specialist and wing cyber security office member, and Keith Mudgett, 104CF information assurance specialist and communication security manager, are two of the individuals tasked with safeguarding COMSEC and performing vulnerability management at the 104th Fighter Wing.

With over 15 years of information protection, technical support, and information technology experience between the two of them, St.Clair and Mudgett ensure the 104FW can maintain the means to communicate and execute the mission.

Mudgett said he believes one of the biggest parts of the job is managing COMSEC.

“Communications security is a National Security Agency run program really,” said Mudgett. “It is by the books and has to be protected at all times. If there were any issues it would affect not just the base, it could affect the whole government. It’s a very important program.”

The information assurance team is also in charge of vulnerability management, which is a process that involves scanning computers on base to see if they need any patches. The patches come from a network operations security squadron.

St.Claire said that having a team dedicated to cyber surety and vulnerability management is crucial in order to prevent cyber-attacks and that the responsibility belongs to everyone.

“That should be everyone’s concern, right down to the Airmen,” said St.Claire: “We see it in the news all time. All of these different hacks and ransomware – they are getting into systems left and right. That’s a big facet of the job. We’re not the ones developing the patches ourselves, but if we are aware of it when something comes down from higher up saying, ‘hey this is available now,’ we might know that software is on our base. We need to get that updated immediately because that is an identified vulnerability.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the information security analyst career field is projected to expand by about 33% from 2020-2030. This means approximately 47,100 new jobs.

Mudgett said the training and experience the two cyber surety specialists have gone through during their careers can translate to a civilian job if you have the right mindset and interest. St.Claire added that having a civilian job in information assurance while also serving as a traditional guardsman leads to knowledge sharing on drill weekends.

“We have a few folks here who both worked here and got their experience through here and got a job,” said St.Claire “Even just going through technical training school they were able to get a good civilian job, and so they do something really astounding on the outside. We have people that work in hospitals and insurance companies. Then they come here on the drill weekend and they are bringing some of that knowledge to us. They are also leaving with some knowledge. It works both ways.”

St.Claire said that the work they do on the cyber surety team is a very worthwhile experience for him.

“I do find it rewarding,” said St.Claire. “The reward of being able to look back at something and say, ‘Yeah, this is up and running because of our team efforts.’”