Thursday, January 22, 2015

Montana youth lead way building cyber security skills

by 2nd Lt. Annabel Monroe
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

1/20/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Students and faculty from Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana, along with members of the Air Force Association and volunteers from Malmstrom Air Force Base, have combined forces to compete in CyberPatriot, Montana's first national youth cyber education program.

In an effort to increase adolescent focus in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, students compete in the field of cyber security and network defense while being taught and mentored by experts in the field.

Top performing teams across the nation will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C., for the National Finals Competition. The regional competition was held Jan. 16, 2015, for Montana's first and only CyberPatriot team.

"The program addresses very real national security concerns in an ever-evolving industry and introduces students to career opportunities in the cyber security field," said Senior Master Sgt. David Lohouse, 341st Communications Squadron superintendent.

Each student participates in training, a practice exercise once a week and meets with a mentor at least once a month.

"(I volunteered) because it's challenging, fun and an opportunity to teach the future 'us,'" said Airman 1st Class Daniel Rome, 341st CS client system technician. "We might as well start now."

"CyberPatriot teaches kids about cyber security and provides a glimpse of the things we face in the Air Force every day," said Senior Airman Eric Garrison, 341st CS client system technician. "Additionally, it's an opportunity to pass on knowledge that can broaden each of these students' opportunities."

"We also have the opportunity to improve our knowledge base and learn new computing policies," added Senior Airman Austin Beaty, a visual imagery and intrusion detection systems specialist from the 341st CS.

"It's a fun group of people to be around. We are proud of what we do and proud of creating safer computers in general," said Joe Grasseschi, an 11th-grade student at CMR High School.

Katie Peppers, a senior at CMR High School who is looking into some of the best technical universities on the East Coast, looks forward to her future and is grateful for the things being a CyberPatriot taught her.

"I love being able to help others with computer issues and appreciate the problem solving skills I have learned," said Peppers.

In the end, that's exactly what programs like these are all about.

"We love providing opportunities that students might not otherwise have in the classroom," explained Jamie Williams, a librarian at CMR and the CyberPatriot team coach.

In a combined effort to further science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge in schools, organizations like CyberPatriot help build America's national security future as well as positive and productive youth.

SAVER-GSA Purchasing Program Webinar for First Responders

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's First Responders Group System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program and General Services Administration (GSA) will host the first in a series of free webinars titled "SAVER-GSA Purchasing Program for First Responders." The webinars will provide an overview of the SAVER program and GSA's critical role in providing disaster-related products and services to state and local governments and federal agencies the webinar is free to join. The webinar will be held Jan. 27, 2015 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. HSIN Link:  Dial in number: 877-352-5212; participant code: 7289941

96th Test Group brings 'R2D2' to life

by SrA Daniel Liddicoet
49th Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Remotely tucked away in the high desert of southern New Mexico, the 96th Test Group at Holloman AFB provides some of the most sophisticated military testing in the world. Often, their innovations and technological pursuits can conjure images seen in science fiction films or novels. The group's latest project, dubbed affectionately as 'R2D2', is no exception.

According to 2nd Lt. Troy Biersack, program manager with the 746th Test Squadron, explained that the project began from a need to design a platform that could serve to perform high-dynamic testing of new GPS technology inside the 56 year-old T-38 Talon.

The culmination of efforts across the 96th TG led to the creation of a rear cockpit mounted electronics package reminiscent of the beloved Star War's robot.

"The similarities between our RCP and R2D2 would be that it's in the rear seat and it's got this funny little cap on the top which functions as an antenna," Biersack described. "We started jokingly referring to it as R2D2 as the project developed, and it just stuck."

Building the RCP required careful coordination between the 746th Test Squadron, 846th Test Squadron and the 586th Flight Test Squadron.
The 746th Test Squadron performed program management, test management, integration of equipment and ground test data analysis. The 846th Test Squadron added by managing the mechanical design and fabrication. Finally, the 586th Flight Test Squadron led the flight certification process and coordinated the installation and removal of the RCP.

"It is a point of collective pride that the squadrons each possess such unique capabilities, yet they work so well together," said Biersack. "Our leadership is promoting innovation and cohesion. This dynamic exists across the squadrons, enabling us to quickly identify and leverage the correct talent."

Biersack served as the program manager for the RCP project, overseeing each phase of development between squadrons to ensure the process was seamless.

"My charge was to maintain program vector and momentum while standing clear of the experts. I was responsible for budget, for keeping it on track and holding people accountable to getting things done on time."

After the 746th Test Squadron developed the requirements to construct the RCP, the 846th Test Squadron began working on the mechanical design and fabrication of the rack.

As Biersack explained, one of the unique challenges of the project was designing a rack that could fit inside the aging T-38 without negatively affecting the pre-existing conditions of the aircraft.

"When the fabricated rack arrived from the 846th, for us it was one of the biggest moments of the entire project," beamed Biersack. "It was such a great feeling to see how far we'd come, and to bear the fruits of our labor in such a tangible way."

Once fabricated, the RCP then had to undergo a series of ground testing and safety reviews before it could become airborne.

According to 1st Lt. Jeffrey Son, test manager at the 746th Test Squadron, explained that one of the challenges of this phase was testing for the aggressive vibration profile necessary to ensure the RCP could undergo the rigors of high dynamic testing.

"As a test manager, it's very neat to be a part of test execution. I feel a lot of the time that I'm just along for the ride. The folks here at the squadron are experts at what they do and need very little guidance to make tests successful. It's been an honor to be a part of this team."

The 746th had to perform a safety review to guarantee that the RCP would bring no new hazards to the T-38.

Erin Morgenstern, unit test safety manager at the 746th Test Squadron, explained that their biggest priority was to ensure that installing the rack would not interfere with the aircraft's ejection system.

"The pilots had to change their ejection settings in order for the gas lines to cooperate with the RCP, we had to make sure there were no hazards to the aircrew upon ejection and that the equipment stayed with plane also so there could be no mid-air collisions."

Finally, once the equipment had been checked out, the RCP was sent to the 586th Flight Test Squadron so it could be flown in the T-38 for initial flight testing.

"The moment it all came to together, the big kumbaya," recalled Biersack, "was the eight sorties that were flown by the 586th went off without a hitch. Seeing the data from our analysts showing that this rack is just as good as the rack we're replacing it with."

As it all came together, the members of the RCP project could see their own little piece of science-fiction forming before their eyes.

"In order to accomplish something like this, you've got to chip away at it bit by bit, piece by piece," said Biersack. "And sometimes it's amazing to just look back, pick your head up from the grind and see everything that's been accomplished."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Incirlik Innovation - Bright idea reduces base energy cost

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/20/2015 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to highlight innovative ideas, programs and actions that have or can save the Air Force money as well as improve mission readiness.

As a whole, the Armed Forces and Department of Defense are becoming smaller as part of a shrinking budget. Due to these fiscal restraints, service members are thinking out-of-the-box and developing innovative ways to improve their installations.

In an attempt to reduce Incirlik Air Base's energy usage, members of the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron's leadership, in cooperation with a contracted partner, developed a way to save the base $500,000 annually - solar water heating systems.

"As we get more into a financially constricted budget, we have to be smarter about doing projects and be good stewards to the taxpayers," said Christopher Stewart, 39th CES quality assurance flight commander. "The Air Force takes advantage of the newest technology and applies these innovative ideas to base projects to reduce energy costs."

The new solar system replaces the traditional electrical energy source, which heated a buildings' water supply in the past, by removing the heater from the base power grid, which ultimately lowers the amount of energy used by the facility.

According to Stewart, solar panel projects are one of the most effective techniques to save energy.

"The panels capture energy from sunlight and convert it to useable energy," Stewart said. "Other energy projects that are typical on Air Force installations are converting to higher efficiency light bulbs, upgrading water lines to reduce water breaks, but even though all of these projects contribute to energy reduction, the savings take longer to payback the cost of the project than solar panels."

The project, which costs $2.4 million, was implemented into 19 facilities across the base that require a larger amount of heated water such as the Sultan's Inn Dining Facility, fitness center and the base dormitories.

According to Capt. Thomas Sena, 39th CES director of operations, by targeting these high demand facilities the base will substantially reduce Incirlik's usage while following the Air Force's goal to save energy.

"The Air Force is always asking for energy saving projects, so this project worked in our favor since the facilities targeted were huge energy demanding facilities," Sena said.

Implemented in July 2013, the system has been operating slightly longer than 18 months. The 39th CES estimates that through reduction in base energy costs, the base will save the cost of the solar water heating systems by the summer of 2018.

45th SW launches 3rd Mobile User Objective System satellite

by 45th Space Wing
Public Affairs

1/20/2015 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing successfully launched the third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Navy at 8:04 p.m. from Launch Complex 41 Jan. 20.

The United Launch Alliance-built Atlas V rocket flew in the 5-5-1 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

MUOS is the next generation narrowband military satellite communication system that supports a worldwide, multi-service population of users in the ultra-high frequency band. The system provides increased communications capabilities to smaller terminals while still supporting interoperability with legacy terminals. MUOS is designed to support users who require greater mobility, higher data rates and improved operational availability.

MUOS-1 was placed into operational use for legacy terminal users in November 2012. MUOS-2 was launched in July 2013, and the next MUOS launch is planned for August 2015, according to the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office.

The system will undergo Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation in December 2015 and will achieve Full Operational Capability in 2017.

MUOS adapts a commercial third generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular technology with geosynchronous satellites to provide a new and more capable UHF military SATCOM system.

The MUOS program includes a satellite constellation of four operational satellites (plus one on-orbit spare), a ground control and network management system, and the new WCDMA waveform for user terminals.

In addition, MUOS will provide greater than 10 times the communications bandwidth capacity over the current UHF constellation.

Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 45th Space Wing Vice Commander, served as the Launch Decision Authority for this vitally important mission.

"Congratulations to Team Patrick-Cape, our U.S. Navy partners, United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin and all our other mission partners for ensuring another successful mission, our No. 1 priority here at the 45th Space Wing," said Col. Fairhurst. "This was the second launch of approximately two dozen missions we have scheduled on the Eastern Range for 2015. The success of every mission is due to the teamwork of all involved."

"We are very proud of the team and mission partners we have here," he said, "who flawlessly deliver vital space capabilities for our Nation."

AFRL researcher teams with Nobel Laureate to enable new breed of rocket component materials

by Holly Jordan
Air Force Research Laboratory

1/21/2015 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. -- Air Force Research Laboratory scientist Dr. Rusty Blanski recently teamed with Dr. Robert Grubbs, a Nobel Laureate from the California Institute of Technology to develop a groundbreaking new technology that could reduce erosion in metallic rocket components, reduce production costs and open the door for the use of new, environmentally-friendly propellants.

Working under the Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Visiting Scientist Program and a Cooperative Research and Development project with Caltech, Blanski, an expert in the field of oxidation-resistant materials, worked side-by-side with Grubbs, an expert in organometallic and synthetic catalysts. Through this collaboration, the two researchers sought to study techniques that could create a new class of olefin metathesis catalysts and allow the development of new and more affordable oxidation-resistant metal coatings for rocket engine components.

Oxidation is an issue in rocket engines and components because their extreme operational environments, including temperatures that can reach 3500 degrees Fahrenheit, accelerate oxidation, causing premature erosion and weakening of components. In the past, exotic metals that are capable of surviving such extreme conditions have been used for these components, making the parts difficult to manufacture and very costly.

Blanski developed the organometallic precursors for a process called Supercritical Chemical Fluid Deposition, which allows the deposition of a layer of oxidation-resistant metal, such as iridium or nickel, onto almost any metal surface. This process allows uniform coating on even small, intricate parts and thin slots, so that the entire surface is protected. This process makes possible the use of less expensive, lighter and more easily-obtainable component materials.

Through their collaborative efforts at Caltech, Blanski and Grubbs developed new precursors and synthetic methodologies to allow the process to be further refined to allow the deposition to occur at lower temperatures, which increases the metal deposit yield and speeds the coating process.

This coating technology can be applied to catalyst bed-plates used to create a protective surface for chemically-induced, in-space thrusters. This work is important because currently there is no type of catalyst bed that can withstand the oxidation environment necessary for the AFRL-developed AF-M315 Green Monopropellant. Using the precursors developed through Blanski's and Grubbs' work could enable the use of this and other types of environmentally-friendly propellants for in-space propulsion.

Additionally, the oxidation protection enabled by this process could also be used for other rocket components such as nozzle walls or combustion chambers, to protect the cooling channels from eroding. Turbine engines may also benefit from this technology.

Blanski says the collaboration was an exciting opportunity that offered benefits for both sides. 

"It was a wonderful experience working in Bob's labs and interacting with him and his highly talented research group," says Blanski. "It is also a true win-win collaboration, where the Air Force receives technology from Caltech and Caltech benefits with the development of a new class of olefin metathesis catalysts."

Caltech recently filed a joint provisional patent on behalf of Blanski and Grubbs to allow for future development and potential commercial use of this technology.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Third Member of International Computer Hacking Ring Pleads Guilty to Hacking and Intellectual Property Theft Conspiracy

A third member of an international computer hacking ring has pleaded guilty to conspiring to break into computer networks of prominent technology companies to steal more than $100 million in intellectual property and other proprietary data.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office made the announcement.

Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and criminal copyright infringement based on his role in the cyber theft of software and data related to the Xbox One gaming console and Xbox Live online gaming system, and popular games such as the “FIFA” online soccer series; “Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3;” and “Gears of War 3.”  Leroux has been in custody since attempting to flee into Canada from Buffalo, New York, on June 16, 2014.  A sentencing hearing is set before U.S. District Judge Judge Gregory M. Sleet of the District of Delaware on May 14, 2015.

Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey, and David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, previously pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge on Sept. 30, 2014.  They remain in custody pending their sentencing hearings, which are scheduled for April 2015.  Pokora’s guilty plea is believed to have been the first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information.  Charges against a fourth defendant, Austin Alcala, 19, of McCordsville, Indiana, remain pending.

According to Leroux’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea, he was part of the hacking conspiracy between January 2011 and September 2012.  During that period, hacking group members located in the United States and abroad gained unauthorized access to computer networks of various companies, including Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games Inc., Valve Corporation and Zombie Studios.  The conspirators accessed and stole unreleased software, software source code, trade secrets, copyrighted and pre-release works, and other confidential and proprietary information.  Members of the conspiracy also allegedly stole financial and other sensitive information relating to the companies – but not their customers – and certain employees of such companies.

Specifically, the data theft targeted software development networks containing source code, technical specifications and related information for Microsoft’s then-unreleased Xbox One gaming console, as well as intellectual property and proprietary data related to Xbox Live and games developed for that online gaming system.

Leroux admitted in court that he and others used the stolen intellectual property to build, and attempt to sell, counterfeit versions of the Xbox One console before its public release in November 2013.  In July 2013, the FBI intercepted a counterfeit console built by Leroux, which was destined for the Republic of Seychelles.

Leroux also admitted that he developed a software exploit that allowed him and others to generate millions of “coins” for the FIFA soccer games playable on the Xbox Live platform.  These coins are the virtual, in-game currency used to build a “FIFA Ultimate Team” in the games.  Without the authorization of Electronic Arts, the intellectual property rights holder to the FIFA games, Leroux and others sold bulk quantities of the “FIFA coins” via online black markets.

The value of the intellectual property and other data stolen by the hacking ring, as well as the costs associated with the victims’ responses to the conduct, is estimated to range between $100 million and $200 million.  To date, the United States has seized over $620,000 in cash and other proceeds related to the charged conduct.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Western Australia Police and the Peel Regional Police of Ontario, Canada.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney James Silver of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. McAndrew of the District of Delaware.