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Air Force Sustainment Center tests cyber readiness

Members of the Pacer Comet 4 Team monitor their system during a simulation.

Members of the Pacer Comet 4 Team monitor their system during a simulation. (Photo Courtesy of 76th Software Engineering Group).

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla --

As reliance on technology grows so does the need for enhanced cyber security. Recently, the Center Information Technology Office within the Air Force Sustainment Center conducted a tabletop exercise that allowed facilitators to detect, diagnose and deter multiple cyber security threats in real-time. This exercise brought together employees from Tinker, Wright-Patterson and Warner Robins Air Force Bases to test their identifying and resolution skills against various cyber security threats and allowed them to test their system security and integration skills.

These exercises are important as the software and hardware platforms are dynamically upgraded to meet changing demands across systems. This exercise focused primarily on testing the system capabilities and deterrence measures of the Pacer Comet 4 engine test system. PC4 is a state-of-the-art engine testing system that relies on a network infrastructure for data acquisition, live video observation and delivering real-time data to remote clients. Keeping this system secure from cyber threats is vital to AFSC’s mission.   

“Exercises like these represent a critical component of AFSC’s cybersecurity posture. Just as we routinely practice severe weather or fire drills, we regularly hone our cybersecurity skills to ensure we are able to anticipate threats,” said Tech. Sgt. Dalton Benedict, IT specialist. “It also helps us to build a broader spectrum of knowledge to draw from. This can allow us to key in on vulnerabilities and opportunities for capitalizing on risk that we may have otherwise missed. This piece relying heavily on having as many different types of experts provide their inputs in their respective areas as possible.”

This exercise allowed information security managers at all three locations to identify the threats and react in real-time with internal deterrence methods and procedures. The exercise facilitators were able to modify and change potential threats mid-course, which allowed them to identify any shortfalls and system vulnerabilities.

“The results of this exercise fleshed out areas for immediate improvement, allowing program management teams to look at their spaces with a critical eye. Simple, yet impactful opportunities to make changes came to light such as the need to authorize preapproved actions to facilitate immediate responses to attacks. This exercise also made clear the various resources AFSC has at its fingertips,” said Bret Seipel, AFSC cyber war gaming lead.

This exercise was part of AFSC’s training cycle and has set the stage for follow-on efforts with greater complexity. AFSC will continue to include various systems across the air logistics complexes and the supply chain in future training events to support a culture of enhanced cybersecurity.