Air Force to get "cyber sidearms"

The Air Force will soon give service members working on networks a new tool to help detect cyberattacks, service officials said.

The “cyber sidearm” is intended to be a simple way for service members to quickly alert others to potential security breaches, said Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, commander of the 8th Air Force.

The tool could be a small piece of software installed on Air Force computers or it could be a simple mechanism for taking a screenshot and relaying it to security experts, said Maj. Gen. William Lord, who will soon take command of the Air Force’s provisional Cyber Command.

In an interview this week, Lord said service officials have not made a final decision about which technology they will use for the program.

Elder said service leaders will stage fake threats to practice using the cyber sidearm. Service members will receive points when they use the tool appropriately and lose points when they fail to act on a simulated threat, he said during a panel discussion in Washington last week sponsored by the Air Force Association.

The cyber sidearm program is part of a broader effort to defend Air Force networks against intruders. Service officials have also begun auditing crucial software to identify security risks, Elder said.

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