An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

To Support, Defend -- Communicators’ Outlooks

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Jackson Jr. and Capt. William Byrd III
  • 43rd Communications Squadron
We all know our respective roles in our various Air Force Specialty Codes. We also understand our roles to "physically" protect our national interests and assets from harm but very few of us really understand and appreciate our role to protect our nation from a "cyber" perspective. 

Vigilance and sharing of information with regard to cyber attacks and seizures will be the safeguard to help secure our national interests where IT networks are concerned. The same malware or social engineering techniques used to dig into an Army network, for instance, could show up later in an attempt against an Air Force system or a network-centric communications link between combat troops on the ground or at sea. Without the ability to share information and coordinate responses, the services' capacity to respond to incidents is severely hampered. Some DoD resources, such as the Global Information Grid, stretch across all Defense agencies, requiring a department-wide response mechanism. 

So where do we place our focus? Of even greater concern than the volume of attacks is their origin. Of the attacks not originating from the United States, the attempted intrusions come from China and other countries that are, if not exactly enemies, fierce competitors. Historically, the largest numbers have come from within the United States. But the percentage of domestic-based attacks has been dropping, and in the first quarter of this year, China-based sites became the single largest source, continuing a trend. In the fourth quarter of 2005, China was second in volume, behind the United States; in the third quarter, China was third, behind the United States. and the Russian Federation, according to Webroot. 

As technology capability increases, so do cyber attacks. We have the strongest Air Force in the world, which has the best C4 -- command, control, communications and computers; and just as in the game we played as kids, King of the Mountain, someone is always trying to dethrone you and take your spot by any means necessary. The means for hurting our Air Force is attacking our C4. More and more you hear in the news about identity theft or the theft of personal information. This information not only provides access to your financials, but is also used to gain access to our networks. Who hasn't used a child's name or birth date for a password? 

We all cringed at the new requirements for passwords to access the network. But it is a necessity to prevent smart programs from easily figuring out our passwords, gaining access to and crippling our systems. What happens when the network is down? No work gets done and we forget how tasks were accomplished prior to computers. So DoD's solution is the CAC card and pin access to the network. 

No longer will there be traditional warfighters. You already see the advent of remotely piloted aircraft. If you are unable to access your computer to order that aircraft part or if you can't get through the gate because your ID card scan has an alert out for you, how do we get our jobs done? We have placed a lot of faith and trust in computers; we must do all we can from the cyber perspective to protect the investment we've made.