by Mike Pierson
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
8/19/2015 - Colorado Springs, Colo. -- A
perfectly secure computer network may also be perfectly useless, while
the most capable weapon system may also be the most vulnerable.
That's the nature of cyber security today, Brig. Gen. Kevin Wooton,
Principal Director of Integrated Air, Space, Cyberspace and Intelligence
Operations, Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, reminded an audience
at the fifth annual Cyber Security Training and Technology Forum here
on Aug. 19, his last duty day in the Air Force after 30 years of
"Our task, and our frustration is that we are charged with having the
most secure cyberspace environment possible," he told the audience of
about 500 network security experts, "but, we have to maintain the user
experience" that helps accomplish the operational mission.
It is that balance, between security and usefulness, that those who
secure and operate information systems have to strike every day, he
said. Perfection in cyber security is a worthy goal, but may not be
worth the cost.
"Perfect is the enemy of the good," Wooton said. "We can strive to be
perfect and we will miss the boat entirely, because we will expend so
much energy, resources and time on the last three or four percentage
points to get us up to 100 percent (security) instead of understanding
how good 95 percent is, especially if we're at 30 percent now!"
Security, Wooton said, is much more than making equipment work. Cyber
security experts have to learn what the warfighter needs, how to provide
that safely and must learn to communicate so that everyone benefits.
Wooton highlighted a recent reorganization at Headquarters, Air Force
Space Command, where intelligence, operations and cyberspace experts
were merged into one staff organization. "For the first time, in AFSPC,
you have space operators, cyber operators and intelligence
professionals sitting in the same room, trying to solve the same
Cyber security is an issue not just for space systems, but for many
other modern weapon systems that may contain dozens, if not hundreds of
embedded systems; computers that communicate with the outside world,
One of the major benefits of the staff consolidation is an appreciation
for "baking in" cyber security to space and communication systems. "We
know (if we build in cyber security from the outset) we can save as much
at 78% ... over the lifecycle of a system." Building cyber security
into an older system, on the other hand is, "like building an airplane
"You are some of the most valued assets in the United States," he told
the crowd of information security professionals. "It's going to take
cyberspace professionals" to strike the proper balance between cyber
security and operational needs.