Air Force examines its vulnerability to cyberattack

Implications of Cyber Warfare (.pdf)

Air Force officials have kicked off a study examining the service’s vulnerability to electronic attacks on critical network infrastructure and systems, as service officials continue planning for a major Air Force command dedicated to waging war in cyberspace.

Last month, service leaders assigned the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board to assess the risk of potential cyberwarfare scenarios and determine their effect on Air Force systems and operations, according to the April 19 terms of reference for the study.

The board also must review the Air Force’s current cyberwarfare defense capabilities and assess critical vulnerabilities in this area, the document states. In addition, panelists are to define technology trends and develop a science and technology plan that would help mitigate the impact of cyberattacks on Air Force systems.

The group is expected to deliver its findings in a briefing to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley in July. A final report is due in August.

Wynne announced plans to establish an Air Force Cyberspace Command in November. The new command will be led by 8th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen Robert Elder, who is also the joint functional commander for global strike and integration at U.S. Strategic Command.

Air Force officials are now working to flesh out the details for the command. Efforts are also under way to assess what kind of training and materiel service members need to fight in cyberspace.

Military officials have defined cyberspace as “a domain characterized by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures,” Wynne said.

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