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Mitigating Vulnerability

As America's adversaries evolve, the Air Force has to be ready to withstand a digital 'sucker punch'. To mitigate this threat, cybersecurity is being integrated into the development of all new programs from the start.

Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)

An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.

Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.

U.S. Airmen unload cargo from a C-130J Hercules assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in East Africa, March 4, 2019. The 75th EAS supports Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa with medical evacuations, disaster relief, humanitarian and airdrop operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Hibben)

U.S. Airmen unload cargo from a C-130J Hercules assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in East Africa, March 4, 2019. The 75th EAS supports Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa with medical evacuations, disaster relief, humanitarian and airdrop operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Hibben)

Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)

Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nathan Ortiz, 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew member, inspects AIM-9X missiles before they are loaded on to 33rd FW F-35 A Lightning IIs at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Sep. 17, 2019. This is the first time AIM-9X missiles have been loaded on to 33rd F-35A Lightning IIs as part of a short notice Weapons Standardization and Evaluation Program tasking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amber Litteral)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nathan Ortiz, 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew member, inspects AIM-9X missiles before they are loaded on to 33rd FW F-35 A Lightning IIs at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Sep. 17, 2019. This is the first time AIM-9X missiles have been loaded on to 33rd F-35A Lightning IIs as part of a short notice Weapons Standardization and Evaluation Program tasking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amber Litteral)

F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018.  The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.

F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018. The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a refueling mission above Iraq March 16, 2018. The 340th EARS is assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group and supports various operations in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Labbe)
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A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a refueling mission above Iraq March 16, 2018. The 340th EARS is assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group and supports various operations in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Labbe)

Senior Airman Christina Phillips, a 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, secures munitions in place on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during the Load Crew of the Quarter Competition, Oct. 4, 2019 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 57th Maintenance Group holds quarterly competitions to give Airmen an opportunity to showcase their technical prowess to an audience of peers and base leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)
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Senior Airman Christina Phillips, a 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, secures munitions in place on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during the Load Crew of the Quarter Competition, Oct. 4, 2019 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 57th Maintenance Group holds quarterly competitions to give Airmen an opportunity to showcase their technical prowess to an audience of peers and base leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

An U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron refuels a 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle while two other F-15s fly in formation during a training mission over Okinawa, Japan, April 5, 2013. The KC-135 and F-15 are two of five aircraft regularly operated from Kadena Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)
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An U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron refuels a 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle while two other F-15s fly in formation during a training mission over Okinawa, Japan, April 5, 2013. The KC-135 and F-15 are two of five aircraft regularly operated from Kadena Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

A U-2 Dragon Lady pilot assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing pilots the high-altitude reconnaissance platform at approximately 70,000 feet above an undisclosed location. The U-2 is a high-altitude, near space reconnaissance aircraft and delivers critical imagery which enables decision makers at all levels the visual capabilities to execute informed decisions in any phase of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Ross Franquemont)
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A U-2 Dragon Lady pilot assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing pilots the high-altitude reconnaissance platform at approximately 70,000 feet above an undisclosed location. The U-2 is a high-altitude, near space reconnaissance aircraft and delivers critical imagery which enables decision makers at all levels the visual capabilities to execute informed decisions in any phase of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Ross Franquemont)

Capt. Jay Lamb and 2nd Lt. Johnathan Vargas, both pilots with the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, pilot a KC-135 Stratotanker transporting 115th Force Support Squadron Airmen from Truax Field, Wis., to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 29, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis)
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Capt. Jay Lamb and 2nd Lt. Johnathan Vargas, both pilots with the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, pilot a KC-135 Stratotanker transporting 115th Force Support Squadron Airmen from Truax Field, Wis., to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 29, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis)

An F-15 Strike Eagle receives an aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 28th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq, Sept. 12, 2018. The KC-135 provides aerial refueling to U.S. and coalition forces. The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith James)
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An F-15 Strike Eagle receives an aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 28th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq, Sept. 12, 2018. The KC-135 provides aerial refueling to U.S. and coalition forces. The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith James)

F-22 Hawaiian Raptor flies over Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 5, 2019.
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F-22 Hawaiian Raptor flies over Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 5, 2019.

U.S. and Italian Air Force aircraft consisting of F-35 Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons and a B-52 Stratofortress, fly in formation over the Adriatic Sea during exercise Astral Knight 19, June 4, 2019. Astral Knight takes place throughout various locations in Europe, involving more than 900 Airmen and supports the collective defense and security of NATO allies and U.S. forces in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua R. M. Dewberry)
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U.S. and Italian Air Force aircraft consisting of F-35 Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons and a B-52 Stratofortress, fly in formation over the Adriatic Sea during exercise Astral Knight 19, June 4, 2019. Astral Knight takes place throughout various locations in Europe, involving more than 900 Airmen and supports the collective defense and security of NATO allies and U.S. forces in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua R. M. Dewberry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Wilber, 7th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, monitors a jet engine while running diagnostics at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26, 2018. A B-1B Lancer engine has a dry weight of 4,400 pounds with a length of 181 inches, a diameter of 55 inches and produces 17,390 pounds of thrust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Wilber, 7th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, monitors a jet engine while running diagnostics at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26, 2018. A B-1B Lancer engine has a dry weight of 4,400 pounds with a length of 181 inches, a diameter of 55 inches and produces 17,390 pounds of thrust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

An E-3 Sentry and F-22 Raptors assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, fly over mountains May 5, 2020. The aircraft were part of a formation flight demonstrating airpower and consisted of active duty, Guard and Reserve components. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)
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An E-3 Sentry and F-22 Raptors assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, fly over mountains May 5, 2020. The aircraft were part of a formation flight demonstrating airpower and consisted of active duty, Guard and Reserve components. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) leads a formation of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 ships as Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and Navy F/A-18 Hornets pass overhead for a photo exercise during Valiant Shield 2018. The biennial, U.S.-only, field-training exercise focuses on integration of joint training among the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Miciano)
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The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) leads a formation of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 ships as Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and Navy F/A-18 Hornets pass overhead for a photo exercise during Valiant Shield 2018. The biennial, U.S.-only, field-training exercise focuses on integration of joint training among the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Miciano)

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Bomber Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., rests on the flightline as pilots perform preflight checks during Red Flag 17-1 on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 25, 2017. Red Flag night missions present the additional challenge of low visibility, testing aircrew’s ability to execute the mission at any hour in a contested and degraded environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum/Released)
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A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Bomber Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., rests on the flightline as pilots perform preflight checks during Red Flag 17-1 on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 25, 2017. Red Flag night missions present the additional challenge of low visibility, testing aircrew’s ability to execute the mission at any hour in a contested and degraded environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum/Released)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Two HH-60 helicopters fly in formation with a C-130 showcasing a simulated air refueling operation on July 10, 2019 during a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) demonstration over the Terrazzo. The demonstration included a showcase of a variety of aircraft including four A-10s, two HH-60s, a C-130, a U-2 flyover. (U.S. Air Force photo/Trevor Cokley)
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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Two HH-60 helicopters fly in formation with a C-130 showcasing a simulated air refueling operation on July 10, 2019 during a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) demonstration over the Terrazzo. The demonstration included a showcase of a variety of aircraft including four A-10s, two HH-60s, a C-130, a U-2 flyover. (U.S. Air Force photo/Trevor Cokley)

Senior Airman Andrew Goudge, 9th Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, looks at meteorological data at Beale Air Force Base, California, Jan. 15, 2020. Weather flight Airmen boost the 9th Reconnaissance Wing’s mission through detecting, recording and transmitting space environmental observations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Valentina Viglianco)
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Senior Airman Andrew Goudge, 9th Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, looks at meteorological data at Beale Air Force Base, California, Jan. 15, 2020. Weather flight Airmen boost the 9th Reconnaissance Wing’s mission through detecting, recording and transmitting space environmental observations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Valentina Viglianco)

An RQ-4 Global Hawk soars through the skies to record intelligence, surveillence and reconnaissance data. Because of its large coverage area the Global Hawk has become a useful tool for recording data and sending it to warfighters on the ground. (Courtesy photo)
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An RQ-4 Global Hawk soars through the skies to record intelligence, surveillence and reconnaissance data. Because of its large coverage area the Global Hawk has become a useful tool for recording data and sending it to warfighters on the ground. (Courtesy photo)

The 45th Space Wing assisted SpaceX in the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the KoreaSat-5A satellite, Oct. 30, 2017, from the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Courtesy photo by SpaceX)
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The 45th Space Wing assisted SpaceX in the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the KoreaSat-5A satellite, Oct. 30, 2017, from the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Courtesy photo by SpaceX)

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers (not pictured) joined up with Republic of Korea air force F-15s during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017. The B-1s first made contact with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets in Japanese airspace, then proceeded over the Korean Peninsula and were joined by South Korean F-15 fighter jets. This mission is part of the continuing demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies. U.S. Pacific Command maintains flexible bomber and fighter capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, retaining the ability to quickly respond to any regional threat in order to defend the U.S. homeland and in support of our allies. (Courtesy photo)
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Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers (not pictured) joined up with Republic of Korea air force F-15s during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017. The B-1s first made contact with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets in Japanese airspace, then proceeded over the Korean Peninsula and were joined by South Korean F-15 fighter jets. This mission is part of the continuing demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies. U.S. Pacific Command maintains flexible bomber and fighter capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, retaining the ability to quickly respond to any regional threat in order to defend the U.S. homeland and in support of our allies. (Courtesy photo)

Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)
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Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

Aircrew with the 4th Special Operations Squadron conduct a routine training mission in an AC-130U Spooky gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 19, 2018. The AC-130U gunship’s primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)
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Aircrew with the 4th Special Operations Squadron conduct a routine training mission in an AC-130U Spooky gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 19, 2018. The AC-130U gunship’s primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

An F-15C Eagle and two F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, painted with their respective squadron heritage color scheme, rendezvous with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing during a flypast over the MSPO Expo in Kielce, Poland, Sept. 3, 2019. The MSPO Expo is an international defense industry exhibition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
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An F-15C Eagle and two F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, painted with their respective squadron heritage color scheme, rendezvous with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing during a flypast over the MSPO Expo in Kielce, Poland, Sept. 3, 2019. The MSPO Expo is an international defense industry exhibition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing conducts aerial operations in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-2 over the North Sea March 12, 2020. Bomber missions enable aircrews to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency and validate U.S. global strike capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Plew)
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A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing conducts aerial operations in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-2 over the North Sea March 12, 2020. Bomber missions enable aircrews to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency and validate U.S. global strike capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Fort Meade, MD --

 

CROWS ensures cyber-resilient AF weapons

 


Over the last few years, the Air Force has been taking proactive approaches to prepare for a proverbial “sucker punch” via cyber-attack. In preparation for this assault, and to mitigate vulnerability, cyber resiliency is being ingrained into Air Force culture.

By military definition, cyber resiliency is the ability of a system to complete its objective regardless of the cyber conditions, in other words, how well it can take a cyber-punch and keep fighting.

To help lead these efforts, the Air Force, through Air Force Materiel Command’s Life Cycle Management Center, stood up the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems, or CROWS, in response to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016. The NDA  instructed the military to analyze the cyber vulnerabilities of major weapons systems and report findings back to Congress. In 2018, the program was fully funded by Congress to begin its mission.

“It’s all about two things, making sure our warfighters are protected and making sure they are able to do their jobs,” said Joseph Bradley, director of CROWS.


Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.
Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.
Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.
Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS)
Joseph Bradley is the director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS) which ensures cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, then maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.
Photo By: JAMES KEVER
VIRIN: 200518-D-HR740-9001

Initially CROWS was created to look at liabilities in legacy weapon systems, but now it is taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity is integrated into the development of all new programs from the start, rather than as an afterthought. Then CROWS maintains and validates the cyber resiliency of the system throughout its life cycle.

Cyber resiliency needs change constantly and impact all Air Force missions — new threats emerge regularly and require new approaches to improve mission assurance.

As an F-35 Lightning II pilot, Maj. Justin Lee flies one of the most advanced aircraft on the planet with systems that will be upgraded and enhanced well into the future.


F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018.  The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018. The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018.  The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
180612-F-MT955-018
F-35A Lightning II test aircraft assigned to the 31st Test Evaluation Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, released AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X missiles at QF-16 targets during a live-fire test over an Air Force range in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2018. The Joint Operational Test Team conducted the missions as part of Block 3F Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
Photo By: Master Sgt. Michael Jackson
VIRIN: 200518-F-MT955-9021

“We’re passing off a tremendous amount of data and, just like your computer, you want that data to be correct,” Lee said. “If you go into an adversarial environment against a frontline threat, then they’re going to be trying to do their best to interfere with it.”

It’s not just his weapons system that is vulnerable; the data these systems take in and put out is just as vulnerable and critical to mission success.

“If a hacker is able to get into the GPS time and get it off sync just by a few nanoseconds, then it can cause the bomb to land in a place that we don’t want,” Lee said.

One key mission in the evolution of CROWS was to find ways to implement cyber resiliency in the acquisition process. This now includes embedding cyber professionals within a program’s executive offices. Also, an acquisitions guidebook was created to standardize cyber-related language for contract evaluations, reducing the burden on any future programs while also allowing better communication with industry partners.


An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)
An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)
An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)
180315-F-OH871-1331
An Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, communicates with an Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. The Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams conducted the exercise to build teamwork and procedures as they provide joint personnel recovery capability, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)
Photo By: Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook
VIRIN: 200518-F-OH871-9017

CROWS allow cyber experts to join forces with the command responsible for the maintenance and development of a weapons system. Through testing and analysis, CROWS will then offer recommendations to make the system less vulnerable and ultimately safer. 

Combat and training missions, weapons delivery and air drops are all put together using computer-based air-space mission planning systems. When the Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center wanted to overhaul their software to assist ground operations for aircraft, they called on the CROWS for help.

“As the challenges were identified we put together an engineering plan for how we would start to resolve or mitigate some of those cyber security vulnerabilities. The CROWS walked us through that analysis,” said Col. Jason Avram, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Airspace Mission Planning Division chief.


Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)
Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)
Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)
191216-F-UR189-1003
Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. The DSCOs monitor signals from satellites to make sure they’re clean and not corrupted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitel
VIRIN: 200518-F-UR189-9020

“As that engineering plan came together, which looks specifically at how we’re going to deal with data integrity issues not only the data that we’re ingesting, but also how we’re processing that data through our software and then how we’re transferring that data to any platforms.”

According to Avram, CROWS funded the effort to develop an engineering plan on how to mitigate vulnerabilities over time.

Having cyber resiliency personnel inserted into a weapons system’s development and life-cycle management allows them to be at the tactical edge; fully understanding the system so they can detect if the obscured hand of an adversary is at play.

“They’re (CROWS) the cop on the beat that sort of knows what their neighborhood is supposed to look like. They’re the first ones that can see that window over there isn’t supposed to be open, let’s go investigate,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick Higby, director of DevOps and lethality. “So, they go in (figuratively) with the flashlight, they investigate and ‘holy cow’ there’s somebody in there, where do you go with that?”


Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)
Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)
Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)
Developing resiliency
Initially created to look at legacy weapon systems, the Air Force CROWS office will be taking aim at ensuring cybersecurity concerns are taken into account from the start of new programs. (Kellyann Novak/Air National Guard)
Photo By: Kellyann Novak
VIRIN: 200427-D-HR740-9010

Higby asked, how does that cop who is on the beat, how do they get the right experts, engineers and PhDs involved who may have built or designed that system to facilitate an agile response to the threat?

He explained the responses to a threat could mean a number of repercussions to the Air Force. There could be a need to ground the asset and not fly the next sortie because the risk is too great. It may be a decision to still fly with the vulnerability in place because there may be other work arounds.

It all goes back to the resiliency; can the weapon system maintain a mission effective capability under adversary offensive cyber operations. The fix may be the deployment of code to quickly patch and shut the window and get the adversary out of the system. But in all responses, you need the expert that built that system originally to be in that discussion alongside the CROWS.


Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
150527-F-BN304-542
Senior Airman Casey Jones, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Silent Sentry, adjust an antenna to maximize the strength of the signal from an orbiting satellite, May 27, 2015, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Silent Sentry team monitors high priority satellite communication signals, detects electromagnetic interference on those signals and geolocates the source of that interference along with other signals of interest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Alex Montes
VIRIN: 200518-F-BN304-9002

“We really want the CROWS to be that interface to the real expert of a given weapon system, whether it’s an aircraft, a missile, a helicopter or whatever,to understand, if you’re going to tweak this, it may have these other consequences to it. And then make that risk decision,” Higby said. “Grounding the asset is not always an option, we have to launch because we have other actors that are dependent on us striking a target.”

In short, the Air Force has to be ready and able to take a punch.

“That’s the idea behind resiliency; you are going to fight to get the mission done no matter what happens,” Higby said.


U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)
U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)
U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)
200330-F-VA182-1001
U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, configures the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor before an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 30, 2020. Maj. Gunderson has over 1,500 hours flying both the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor and is in his first year as commander of the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)
Photo By: 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm
VIRIN: 200518-F-VA182-9004



 

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