Science and Technology News

Saturday, February 8, 2014

AF Reserve test squadron highlights mission to 2014 CYBERSPACE symposium goers

by Tech. Sgt. Stephen J. Collier
310th Space Wing Public Affairs

2/7/2014 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force Reserve's 14th Test Squadron was featured side by side with leading cyber and information-technology companies and organizations Feb. 5, during the annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association CYBPERSPACE Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The 14th Test Squadron, a Total Force Integration outfit associated with the active duty 17th TS, has showcased its mission of operational testing and evaluation of IT components at the symposium since 2009. For five years, AF Reserve Maj. Marc Weber said the squadron has showcased its commitment to "blue-team testing" of Department of Defense components.

"At AFCEA, we have the opportunity to show how our job in the 14th TS is about cyber security," the squadron's technical director said. "We get to see if anybody has issues with their IT configuration, ensuring it's done right. Our demonstration is a simple way to show that if something is not configured correctly, like a WPA encryption, then it can be cracked."

WPA, or Wi-Fi Protected Access, is a type of web encryption used in wireless Internet and routers to ensure secure access.

The squadron showcased the use of a "Cantenna," an amateur device that, when pieced together with other off-the-shelf electronics, can connect with Wi-Fi signals sometimes blocks away. Squadron members also showcased their ability to determine vulnerabilities with existing wireless routers owned by other 14th TS members.

Fred Mooney, the symposium's chairman and retired AF colonel, said that in today's era of budget cuts within the federal government, not a lot of interaction goes on between government and industry partners. His aim for AFCEA is to bridge that gap.

"When you think about cyber and IT, this symposium is really an opportunity to keep up with what industry is doing and leverage it," Mooney said. "We bring government and industry together in an ethical forum. When it comes to IT, there are synergies to be had. You can automate things, you can integrate better or even make up for the loss of manpower. It really is a beneficial forum for the entire Department of Defense."

Mooney pointed out the CYBERPSACE symposium will continue to grow during the next five years.

"Even though the government has pushed away from conferences, ours grew in 2013. While others are scaling back, ours is growing," he said. "There is a growing dependence on IT and cyber to do all our missions and it will only have an increasing role. We're getting this symposium through these tough budget years and we're doing everything we can to keep it alive. As all our missions depend more on these capabilities, we'll be ready."

The symposium, which garnered more than 12,000 visitors and was held at the well-known Broadmoor Hotel, included guest speakers Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command; Army Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, Defense Information Systems Agency vice director and Jeffrey Allen, AFSPC's director of logistics, installations and mission support. Each speaker focused on cyber operations and training and the future impact of cyber in warfare.

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