Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SBSS flies past 4th anniversary

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel


10/16/2014 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Members of the 1st Space Operations Squadron gathered to celebrate the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite's fourth anniversary on orbit recently.

The event not only provided an opportunity for squadron members and leaders to celebrate mission success, it also helped fortify a new identity for 1 SOPS, which has transitioned into a space based space situational awareness squadron in the past 12 months.

While the squadron has commanded and controlled SBSS since it reached orbit in September 2010, it also gained a new SSA system, the Geosynchronus Space Situational Awareness Program, this past summer.

In June, Air Force Space Command leadership directed 1 SOPS to add command and control of GSSAP to its portfolio of SSA systems, which includes SBSS and the Advanced Technology Risk Reduction satellite.

"With leadership's decision to make 1 SOPS a space-based SSA squadron, we begin the work of truly operationalizing SSA to where the Joint Functional Component Command space commander will receive truly actionable information," said Lt. Col. Toby Doran, 1 SOPS commander. "Moreover, by gaining synergy among SBSS, ATRR and GSSAP, we can say that space superiority starts in 1 SOPS."

SBSS plays a large and significant role in the space situational awareness realm.

Built by Ball Aerospace Technologies Corporation and the Boeing company, SBSS uses a two-axis, gimbaled optical telescope to provide coverage of satellites and other objects in the geostationary belt.

It is one of the few satellites on orbit that look out toward the heavens instead of toward Earth. SBSS is a low-Earth orbit sensor that provides all-weather, 24-hour space situational awareness data to assist commanders throughout the military in detecting, identifying and tracking potential hazards in space. In essence, SBSS helps provide a better understanding of the space environment.

"The vehicle performs more GEO observations than any other sensor," said Capt. Jared Grady, 1 SOPS lead SSA space vehicle engineer. "It also performs a significant number of deep space observations beyond the GEO belt."

Grady explained that 1 SOPS analysts and engineers have continued to innovate during SBSS's lifespan, which has extended the satellite's capability beyond its original design life.

This year proved to be an important one for both the satellite and the squadron as 1 SOPS members rewrote the vehicle's tactics manual. This not only helps operators understand the updated vehicle, but informs the SSA community about how SBSS contributes to space situational awareness.

"When we consider a one-of-a-kind system like SBSS, we have no choice but to be innovative," Doran said. "There is no opportunity for material solutions, so we turn to our tacticians to get the most out of the system.  They have done it and our new tactics manual documents that innovation."

As the squadron opens year five of SBSS operations, the lessons learned and the experience gleaned from the system's performance will be invaluable as it embarks on year one of operating GSSAP.

"As we transition our mission sets, we're commemorating our success of another year on orbit [for SBSS]," said Capt. Brett Kasischke, 1 SOPS chief of operations training. "At the same time, what's new and different is we're doing this with a vision of ourselves as an SSA squadron."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

145th Airlift Wing Cyber Mission; Be Aware -- Connect with Care

by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
145th Public Affairs


10/20/2014 - CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Internet is part of our everyday life. We use the Internet at work, home, for enjoyment and to connect with those close to us. From smart phones to car navigation systems, to sending daily messages via the World Wide Web and texting, the use of technology in our daily routines is difficult to avoid. Our civilization has become technology dependent. To imagine our lives without this current technology would simply bring our daily routines to a grinding halt.

Since its inception a decade ago under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, National Cyber Security Awareness Month has grown exponentially, reaching small and medium-size businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation.

According to Homeland Security, cyber security begins with a simple message that everyone using the Internet can adopt: Stop. Think. Connect.

Stop: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.

Think: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact not only your safety, but your family's as well.

Connect: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. No country, industry, community or individual is immune to the cyber risks that are out there. Whether it's clicking on a malicious link in a phishing email, downloading a malicious file or plugging something into a computer or network that we shouldn't, users of the Air Force network are the key to its defense.

From desktop PCs to top-secret server rooms, the U.S. Air Force operates more computers than almost any other organization on the planet. Keeping these critical tools up and running is the responsibility of Client Systems specialists.

How is the North Carolina Air National Guard defending its network?

"My job is to make sure that each and every server is being maintained to the standards that the Defense Information Systems Agency has mandated." said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Andre Corbett, 145th Communications Flight. "As a client systems administrator, my job, along with my responsible and knowledgeable team members, is to maintain a secure network so that mission accomplishments can and do take place no matter what the tasking may be. Knowing that my small piece of the large cyber world plays a huge part makes me appreciate what I do."

So when in doubt, throw it out: links in emails, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the ways cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cyber expansions create security considerations

10/15/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS)  -- Technological advances have put the world at the fingertips of anyone with connection to the Internet and during cyber security awareness month, Airmen and their families are reminded to remain vigilant when posting personal information.

"You have to assume that everyone is looking at it," said Col. Mary Hanson, the senior information security officer of the Air Force Office of Information Dominance and chief information officer. "Think: would my mom be proud if I put this out there?"

It's not just families looking at what Airmen are posting on social media sites; it's also employers and, more importantly, unfriendly sources, Hanson explained.

"Social media is a convenient tool but also a dangerous one," said Phil Withers, the Air Force Special Operations Command's deputy chief of information and cyberspace operations. "I think of using the Internet like I think of driving a car; it's a great tool but users need to be cautious."

According to Air Force Instruction 1-1, "Air Force Standards," even having unknown followers could constitute relationships that may affect determinations in background investigations associated with security clearances.

Security clearances are not the only things Airmen and their families need to be aware of in the cyber realm. It is estimated that about eight new users access the Internet every minute as technology spreads to developing countries. On average, there are 1 million victims of cyber-crime across the globe every day, and most of them are new Internet users who could have avoided the attack if they were more educated on cyber security.

"The goal of cyber security awareness month is to take steps to make sure you are not one of those victims in your professional network life and your home network life," said 2nd Lt. Kristoff Kalau, the 18th Communications Squadron officer in charge of cyberspace support systems.

There are steps Airmen and their families can take to help protect themselves against unwanted access to their personal information on social media:

· Set privacy settings on social media sites to restrict access to posts but do not rely on those settings to be a fail-safe
· Do not share information that you are not willing to share with the world, as some websites could leak information
· Do not post personal information such as your home address or phone number
· Disable locator functions on cell phones when not in use to avoid inadvertently giving away location
· Avoid posting travel plans and details of daily schedules
· Be aware of open Wi-Fi hot spots in public areas where information can easily be stolen from phones or tablets
· Do not publicize your association with military forces
· Be aware of unrecognized friends or followers on social networks

"The bottom line is you need to be aware of who is looking at your information," Hanson said. "You don't want to be a target, so be careful and be vigilant."

(Editor's Note: Erica Vega, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais, 18th Air Force, contributed to this article.)

(Information courtesy of Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - P)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Safeguarding your digital footprint

by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


10/9/2014 - JBSA LACKLAND, TEXAS -- Social media is a great resource for Airmen and their families to share information and stay connected to relatives at home and abroad.

Although many depend on these wonderful tools, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital footprint to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online predators and individuals who want to do us harm.

While social media use can be entertaining and informative, it poses potential operations security weaknesses, and Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, provides guidance on appropriate social media use by Airmen.

OPSEC and personal privacy concerns should be paramount when using social media. Military members have recently been threatened on social media by terrorist organizations looking for information they can use to harm military families and disrupt Air Force operations.

The following tips will make it more difficult for unwanted users to acquire your data through social media:


Be cautious when accepting friend requests and interacting with people online. You should never accept a friend request from someone you do not know, even if they know a friend of yours.
 
Don't share information you don't want to become public. Remember, once you put something out there, you can't control where it goes.

Disable location-based social networking, or geotagging, on all social media platforms. Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification to photographs, video, websites and text messages.

Avoid posting work or personal schedules and travel itineraries, especially deployment information and return dates for yourself, a loved one or a unit.

If you ever hesitate before clicking 'post', reconsider the content you are about to share. Our team follows the motto: When in doubt, throw it out!

Adjust your privacy settings to ensure your posts and profile information is secured and seen only by approved audiences.This last tip applies to any social media platforms you may use, but since Facebook is the most widely used, we want to share this detailed how-to guide on how to secure your profile. Check out this guide for more details.


Practicing good OPSEC and helping family members follow these security measures is essential to protecting personal and mission-critical information on social media. If you ever feel you are being threatened or you notice vulnerable information online, be sure to alert the social media platform's help center and your local OPSEC manager for assistance.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alleged Russian Cyber-Criminal Now Charged in 40-Count Superseding Indictment



A federal grand jury in Seattle returned a second superseding indictment late yesterday charging a Russian national with 11 additional counts and further detailing his alleged scheme to hack into businesses and steal credit card information for later sale over the Internet on “carding” websites.

The now 40-count indictment alleges that Roman Valerevich Seleznev, aka “Track2,” 30, of Vladivostok, Russia, was involved in the theft and sale of more than 2 million credit card numbers.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington made the announcement.

“The additions in this superseding indictment show how cybercriminals use the Internet not only to infiltrate and steal sensitive data, but also to teach other criminals how to navigate the credit-card selling underworld and get equipment that can be used to defraud U.S. citizens,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The Criminal Division is committed to investigating these thefts and uncovering the methods of computer hackers to stay one step ahead of them and bring them to face justice.”

“The charges returned by the grand jury detail a criminal scheme that continued right up until Mr. Seleznev’s arrest in July,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Hayes.  “As set forth in the indictment, the government expects to prove at trial that Seleznev was a leader in the marketplace for stolen credit card numbers, and even created a website offering a tutorial on how to use stolen credit card numbers to commit crime.”

The indictment charges Seleznev with 11 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Seleznev is currently scheduled for trial on Nov. 3, 2014, and will be arraigned on the new charges sometime next week.

According to court documents, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev allegedly hacked into retail point of sale systems and installed malicious software to steal credit card numbers from various businesses.  Seleznev allegedly created and operated the infrastructure to facilitate the theft and sale of credit card data, used servers located all over the world to facilitate his operation, and sold stolen credit card data on a website known as “2pac.cc.”

Seleznev is also charged in a separate indictment in the District of Nevada with participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) and conspiracy to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices. 

The charges contained in the indictments are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, which includes detectives from the Seattle Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ethan Arenson of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington.  The Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Guam provided substantial assistance in this case.

Digital battlefield: 423rd CS shines during CCRI



by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
 
"Every second of every single day the U.S. military could be under attack."

U.S. Air Force Maj. John Riester, 423rd Communications Squadron commander, leaned back in his chair - allowing the gravity of his words to sink in. He was right. At any given moment a government, organization, terrorist group or hacker could launch a digital offensive against the United States.

This digital onslaught is called a "cyber-attack," and it is how adversaries wage war across computer information systems, infrastructures, digital networks and even personal computing devices. According to the U.S. Cyber Command, cyberspace is a battlefield for the 21st Century. Recently, Airmen from the 423rd CS scored a major victory in that battle when their network defense programs were tested and evaluated as the best among U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa bases, and third in the Air Force, during the fiscal year 2014 Command Cyber Readiness Inspection.

"The inspection took a look at the threat to our network and gauged how well guarded we are against the possibility of an attack," Riester said. "Inspectors combed through our program line-by-line, ensuring we met the intent."

According to Riester, a large part of the inspection intent was to ensure the network at RAF Alconbury was monitored and protected at all times. This involved looking at both digital and physical aspects of the communication infrastructure.

"The inspectors looked for unsecured network devices, switch ports and wall jacks that could potentially allow an adversary to access the Air Force network," said Staff Sgt. Erik Reese, 423rd CS cyber transport supervisor. "An unauthorized user with the right skillset could potentially use a device to plug into an unsecured port and collect sensitive information. Our job is to harden the network against exploitation."

Even though hardening the network and cyber-defense is typically passive at the squadron level, Riester said the Airmen involved in this inspection went above and beyond to ensure the hundreds of criteria for each device and machine at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom, were well within compliance.

"This is the most dynamic environment you can work in," Riester said. "There are both internal and external threats to our network that we guard against, because information is ultimately power. We need to leverage an adversary's vulnerabilities while simultaneously securing our own."

Through the innovative and dedicated efforts of 423rd CS Airmen, Riester said the squadron currently has the lowest vulnerability numbers in the entire Air Force. However, he also understands the nature of cyber-warfare - which means a cutting edge threat today could be obsolete tomorrow.

"Nothing will ever be perfect, because this landscape is ever-changing," he said. "However, the Airmen at the 423rd have proven their steadfast commitment to securing our digital borders. This inspection showcased a phenomenal team effort that reaches back to each and every Airman coming to work with a desire to make things better every day."


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Navy Study Confirms Vaccine Effectiveness in Recruits



By Anna Hancock, Naval Health Research Center Public Affairs Officer

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A recent study led by the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) in San Diego confirmed the effectiveness of the adenovirus vaccine after observing a 100-fold decline in respiratory illnesses in U.S. military recruits.

The study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) this summer, examined the impact on Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army recruits after the sole manufacturer ceased production for a 12-year period starting in 1996. Since the resumption of the vaccine in 2011, the study highlights the vaccine prevented an estimated three deaths and up to 8,100 hospitalizations within the military population.

"Febrile Respiratory Illnesses (FRI) resulting from adenovirus were responsible for an estimated $600 million in training time lost and medical expenses during the 12 years with no vaccines," explained Anthony Hawksworth, an analyst at NHRC and coauthor of the study. "Adenovirus, which causes flu-like symptoms and often leads to pneumonia, greatly impacted training during the nonvaccine period, disrupting training schedules and causing a significant number of recruits to drop out of the program."

Accounting for the cost of the vaccines, according to Hawksworth, NHRC estimates an annual savings of $20 million since vaccine resumption.

For a recruit, basic training or "boot camp" is a vigorous six- to 12- week training program. It teaches the fundamentals of military service and trainees undergo rigorous physical fitness programs. Adenovirus is the most prevalent and most widely spread virus in military training environments - with estimates of up to 80 percent of recruits infected - without adenovirus vaccines.

As Hawksworth noted, "administering the vaccine wasn't an option during this time because the manufacturer made a business decision to stop making it. The military took prevention measures such as increased hand washing and other environmental controls but literature shows, as does our study, that those methods are not nearly as effective as vaccination."

FRI surveillance for this study took place at eight military recruit training facilities across the U.S. from 1996 until 2013. When vaccine supplies ran out, experts saw the virus become highly endemic in recruit training centers. In 2001, the Army worked with pharmaceutical companies to resume production. NHRC then tested the vaccines with Army counterparts and it received FDA approval in 2011.

"After the military reinstated the vaccine, the average plummeted from about 250 cases of the virus each week to two," said Hawksworth.

NHRC regularly conducts disease surveillance around the world, including within San Diego-based military populations and at the U.S.-Mexico border in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Military health care officials at NHRC are required to report a weekly FRI update as part of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Program, the global health surveillance proponent for epidemiology across the Department of Defense.

"This is a study that can easily be translatable to the civilian sector," explained Cmdr. Gary Brice, NHRCs director for the Operational Infectious Diseases Directorate. "Our results reinforce the message that FDA-approved vaccines are safe and very effective. For our military service members, protecting them is our primary mission."

As the DoD's premier deployment health research center, NHRCs cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation's armed forces. Within close proximity to more than 95,000 uniformed service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRCs expert team sets the standards in joint ventures, innovation, and practical application.