Science and Technology News

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cyber security facility transfers to Hanscom

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

5/13/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Officials here cut the ribbon on a new facility that will improve cyber testing and integration with less expense.

While the facility at Hanscom is new, the Air Force is actually transferring an operation known as the Intranet Control Weapons System Gateway Integration Facility from a local defense contract site. For approximately a decade, the site has operated at General Dynamics Information Technology's facility in Needham, Mass.

However, the Air Force now foresees significant cost savings by moving the testing center to Hanscom.

"This is a big deal as we move toward a more consolidated approach," said Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks. "The work that will take place here will help every base perform more efficiently and affordably within the Department of Defense Joint Information Environment."

The Gateway Integration Facility is a workshop for cyber integration and testing. It contains hardware and software that serve as a security boundary between the Air Force's network and the Global Information Grid that connects to the internet. Here, software, hardware and security profiles are tested before deploying to one of 16 operational locations worldwide.

"We estimate a savings of nearly $1 million per year," said Capt. Marcus Wells, program manager for the transition. "That's more than $7 million over the Gateway's life cycle."

Additionally, once the Hanscom site becomes fully operational, the Air Force plans to reduce its overall data center footprint by closing another testing facility located at Maxwell-Gunter Annex, Ala., according to program officials.

By moving onto base, the Air Force assumes control over power, heating, ventilation and air conditioning facility costs as well as eliminating travel expenditures. All installation responsibilities and oversight fall under the 66th Air Base Group at Hanscom.

"The group has been an excellent partner in this endeavor and the facility is an ideal environment for the advancements we will be making in cyber security," said Col. Bill Polakowski, C3I Infrastructure Division senior materiel leader.

The Hanscom site provides the capacity to house 40 racks of equipment, uninterrupted power supplies, electrical infrastructure, air conditioning and generator-backed power.

By assuming control of the Gateway Integration Facility, the program office will directly control cost, schedule and performance of modernizations of the Gateway's hardware, software, patches, test and configurations. It will also serve as the primary location for validating, verifying security and time-compliance technical orders -- all aspects that will have a direct impact on cyber security and the overall efficiency of the center, according to program officials.

"In addition, having the Gateway Integration Facility on base will also allow some smaller upgrade and support efforts to be done in-house, shortening turnaround time," Wells said.

But, there are other advantages of being located at Hanscom besides cost and control.

The site is working toward accreditation through another testing facility on base -- the CEIF -- to gain Defense Research and Engineering Network access, which will allow engineers to connect to the new facility's assets from their offices or abroad.

It also puts the responsibility of system integration into the hands of the Air Force, simplifying contracting efforts with small businesses. No longer will other contractors be required to get access approval from the previous site's owner.

"The work that happens within these walls is critical to cyber security," Polakowski said. "It enables the first line of defense from cyber threats to the Air Force network. And with this facility, we will continue to make great strides in sustaining, modernizing and securing the Air Force network more efficiently with our organic workforce."

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