US Air Force Needs IT Help Protecting Cyberspace
August 31, 2012

US Air Force Needs IT Help Protecting Cyberspace

John Neumann for - Your Universe Online

The US Air Force (USAF) is looking for a few good nerds as it has been tasked with protecting America´s world wide web. The purview of the USAF includes low-earth orbit, and it has a group known as Space Command who oversee its orderly and peaceful use. Since cyberspace includes the word space, logically, the Air Force should oversee its protection.

This is the Pentagon we are talking about so just go with it.

Kaspersky Lab reports that the USAF is asking contractors to submit concept papers for technological demonstrations of offensive cyber warfare operations (CWO), reports The Inquirer. The announcement seeks CWO to have proactive plans that include “cyberspace warfare attack” and “cyberspace warfare support”.

In short, the USAF needs a few good IT managers.

The Air Force defines its wished-for attack capabilities to, “destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp” the adversary´s ability to use cyberspace to its advantage. If that includes videos of kittens brainwashing us then we have already lost the battle.

The request also seeks “situational awareness capabilities that give an operator near real-time effectiveness feedback in a form that is readily observed by the operator”, and goes into some detail about what it thinks that means.

The submission of concept papers is only the first step in a process that will result in contracts totaling up to $10 million being awarded for prototyping.

The open discussion about the use of cyberweapons seems to have become a trend in the past few months. Just two weeks ago, US Marine Corps Lt. General Richard Mills openly admitted to using cyberattacks in Afghanistan in 2010 with great success, reports Lucian Constantin for Computer World.

“I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyber operations against my adversary with great impact,” Mills said during a talk he gave at the TechNet Land Forces East conference in Baltimore earlier this month.

“I was able to get inside his nets, infect his command-and-control, and in fact defend myself against his almost constant incursions to get inside my wire, to affect my operations,” Mills said.

National Security Agency Director General Keith B. Alexander, who also heads the US Cyber Command, last month made a very rare appearance at the Defcon hacker conference and encouraged hackers to join the NSA and other government agencies.

Perhaps though, the Pentagon is merely opening up about a not-so-secret capability it already has and can scarcely deny. The New York Times reported earlier this year that the US and Israel developed the Stuxnet cybersabotage malware as part of a secret operation to set back Iran´s nuclear efforts. The report cited unnamed sources from the Obama administration who had knowledge about the project.

The best defense may be a good offense, writes Ian Chant for Geek System. Chest thumping can go a long way to giving adversaries pause. No one knows that better than military types, and it would be surprising if the Air Force was really just trying to get the attention of coders and engineers with this letter.