Team Shaw member teaches local seniors security

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – As technology advances, it simplifies and improves the quality of many, however it can also lead to increased vulnerabilities. This is especially true for senior citizens, who often get left behind the march towards the future. It became 2nd Lt. Rachel E. Sax’s, 28th Operational Weather Squadron senior duty officer, mission to help local senior citizens become comfortable with keeping themselves safe online.

The CyberGenerations Senior Citizens Cyber Safety Initiative is a program that covers basic topics of cybersecurity and provides additional resources which can help seniors identify potential cyber-attacks directed at them or their loved ones.

“In the United States, senior citizens are the most vulnerable group of internet users because they tend to be wealthier and more trusting,” said Sax. “This program aims to teach the senior citizens of our community how to spot internet threats and how to avoid losing money to cyber criminals.”

Over the course of five weeks, Sax served as an instructor for five one-hour classes, varying from 30 to 90 senior citizens, on various cyber security topics. Each class was interactive and included an activity.

“The course started broad and introduced cyber security,” said Sax. “We covered the importance of maintaining good password hygiene. We discussed different types of malware and how to avoid them. The class on internet scams and fraud was by far the most popular. Most of the students had already experienced different scams and shared their experiences with dating fraud, identity theft and online shopping scams.”

After the course was finished, Sax provided feedback to the program coordinators to improve the curriculum before the course is offered nation-wide.

“I submitted a survey that included the student’s pre-and-post surveys which helped the coordinators determine how much the students learned throughout the course,” said Sax. “I provided feedback for portions of the curriculum that were well-received and portions that were confusing.”

Sax received the Air Force Association Medal of Merit for her contributions to the AFA and the Cyber Patriot CyberGenerations Pilot program.

In addition to her support of local senior citizens, David Hanson, 20th Operations Support Squadron F-16 Viper simulator instructor and local AFA chapter president, said Sax provided critical feedback about the program which was then used to improve the course.

“The AFA’s efforts to help educate the older generation of Sumter citizens helps foster a positive and supportive relationship between the community and Shaw Air Force Base,” said Sax.

Sax said she would encourage all Airmen to get involved and volunteer their time, as it is rewarding to give back to the community and further professional development.

“Community outreach gives us the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those who always thank us for our service,” said Sax. “Many of the students in the Cyber Generations course were veterans themselves. It felt great to be able to serve them in such a unique way.”