Science and Technology News

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hanscom Vulnerability Management team receives cyber award

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


4/7/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force Vulnerability Management team, a program office within Hanscom AFB's Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence Infrastructure Division, received an Elite 6 Award during a C4ISR and Networks Conference April 7, 2015, in Crystal City, Va.

The 25-member team was recognized for its efforts within the cyber field, one of six main categories of awards.

Elite 6 Awards recognize advancements in technology and capability development within the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, mobile and IT network arenas.

"It's an honor for this team to be recognized for its dedication to delivering a cyber warfighting capability to the Air Force network enterprise when it was needed," said Capt. Weldon Hobbs, the program manager for the Vulnerability Management team at the time.

Simply put, the mission of the Hanscom-based team centers on detecting and remediating cyber vulnerabilities that could adversely affect the Air Force's Information Network.

While the list of accomplishments that led to the special recognition is long, the most notable achievement is the fielding of a brand new cyber capability known as the Assured Compliance Assessment Solution. ACAS is a product suite that provides network and application vulnerability scanning as well as device configuration assessments and network discovery. It affords warfighters at more than 200 bases worldwide the ability to detect cyber vulnerabilities such as backdoors and latent software/firmware defects 24/7 and in real-time.

"This was a huge undertaking," Hobbs said. "We applied this defense capability to one of the largest cyber networks in the world, and we're among the first in the Department of Defense to do it."

To achieve this feat, the Vulnerability Management team employed an innovative strategy by acting as its own system integrator, which is now a proven acquisition model for the Air Force and other DOD programs.

Instead of relying on industry, the team designed, tested and deployed ACAS completely in-house and in turn, saved the Air Force approximately $22 million.

In addition to ACAS, the Vulnerability Management team also deployed the first-ever AFNet Linux patch management system.

"We're exceptionally proud of this pathfinder system," said Michael Kaplan, Air Force Networks Systems Branch chief.

The system allows Airmen to remotely and efficiently distribute ACAS updates using satellite servers, a capability that could be leveraged by other Air Force Linux-based IT systems to push updates. The effort also resulted in a $1.5 million a year sustainment cost savings.

"It is vitally important that we in the cyber acquisition community figure out ways to get state-of-the-art capabilities into the hands of our cyber warfighters as quickly as possible," Kaplan said. "Captain Hobbs and his team took a bold, organically-manned approach that did just that. The team did a fantastic job designing, testing, deploying and operationalizing the ACAS system, and it is extremely gratifying to see these folks recognized for their efforts. Most importantly, the Air Force networks are better protected."

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