Hot Topics

  • Published
  • Air Force Cyber College, Maxwell AFB, AL
The Cyber Meta-Reality

Newt's World - Episode 414: What is the Metaverse

Newt talks with Dr. Joshua Sipper about his new book, “The Cyber Meta-Reality: Beyond the Metaverse.”

What exactly is the metaverse? How has the war in Ukraine taught us more about cyber warfare? Newt’s guest is Dr. Joshua Sipper. He is a Professor of Cyber Warfare Studies at the Air Force Cyber College and author of the new book, “The Cyber Meta-Reality: Beyond the Metaverse.”

Teaching Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber (FMA-C)

Risk Mitigation

The best way to mitigate risk is to look into what you can control, which for an organization, is its internal vulnerabilities. If you can mitigate or remove vulnerabilities, then the threat cannot act upon your organization because there is no vulnerability. Now, there is no way, in the real world, you can remove all an organization’s vulnerabilities. In military flying operations, the safest course of action is to not fly, because flying is inherently dangerous, but that is the required mission. But you can identify areas of vulnerabilities that can be mitigated. How do you do that? You have to have a risk methodology that identifies vulnerabilities, prioritizes which ones have the most severe consequences, then mitigate those risks through changing procedures, technology, or training, to name a few.

Lastly, every major group in an organization needs to participate in these risk discussions including leadership, operations, and support groups. If you would like to know more about risk, mitigations, and methodology, we have a Virtual Cyber Seminar from August 2021 that we did on Holistic, Risk-Driven Cyber Incident Response Planning. Also, we offer classes on this methodology every 2 weeks that military members take called Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber.”

For help with prioritizing vulnerabilities to mitigate, we have another VCS entitled "Quantifying Risk: Coming Out of the Stone Age" which provides helpful resources for advancing your risk management program.

Teaching Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber (FMA-C)

Mission Defense Team (MDT) 

Who: Col Dave Bosko and Tony Franks

What: Cyber Fundamentals for Aviation PCE course

Where: 9 Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, CA

When: 8-11 March, 2022

Why: 9 RW/A6 requested AFCC send 2 instructors to give them 2 days of education and mentoring with cyber academics.

We taught 5 briefings/discussions with 9 RW leadership and members from around the wing, including intel, aircrew, space operators, maintainers, communicators and cyber operators. Wing, group, squadron leadership attended several sessions with much dialogue about Mission Defense Team (MDT) usage. We briefed Cyber Fundamentals for Aviation, Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber executive brief, MDT best practices and advice. Several hundred 9 RW members were in attendance.

Teaching Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber (FMA-C)

Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber (FMA-C) 

Functional Mission Analysis-Cyber (FMA-C) was AF Cyber College’s first ever Professional Continuing Education course we offered, starting in 2015. It started as an experimental course for Cyber Protection Teams, who offer defensive cyber operations for the US military. The AF started the Cyber Squadron Initiative in 2016, creating the first ever Mission Defense Teams (MDT), who are AF wing-level tactical cyber defense teams. Currently there are 83 teams across the globe, defending AF bases, aircraft, and infrastructure from potential cyber intrusions. The AF has made FMA-C education a requirement for all MDTs. Here at the AF Cyber College, we teach that course 2 times a month, totaling over 1000 students a year.

Since the inception of the course, we have taught FMA-C education to all the joint services, as well as to military civilians and contractors. And just in the last year we have had coalition and allied partners now taking the course including Australian defense forces and just last month a Swiss military member. We here at the AF Cyber College are proud to serve our nation, its allies, and interests. If you would like to know about FMA-C, please click: under the FMA-C tab.

Inaugural Issue of AEther Cover

Inaugural Issue of AEther

Dr. Guttieri’s article, “Accelerate Change or Lose the Information War,” is now published in the inaugural issue of AEther, a new journal by Air University Press. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. wrote the lead article for the issue. Gen Brown’s action orders tell the Air Force to “accelerate change or lose.” The information-  cyber war is already hot and holds at risk American social, economic, and political cohesion. In her article,  Dr. Guttieri looks to literature on military innovation to assess the prospects for the Air Force to win in information warfare. The strategic assessment signals that new operational concepts are needed. But to win, the Air Force must do more in development and promotion of officers to fight the new way of war.

Cyber Security, COVID-19 and the Food Supply Coalescing Concerns

Cyber Security, COVID-19 and the Food Supply Coalescing Concerns
R.A. Norton, Ph.D.1, Joseph McGarvey2, Ph.D. and Marcus Sachs, P.E.3

1,3 Auburn University and the McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure  Security, 2United States Air Force Cyber College, Air University

COVID-19 should be looked upon as a model of how our nation and its decision makers responded to a monumental scale crisis. Most importantly, there are transcendent lessons to be learned and discoveries to be found by analyzing the leadership’s response. National decision makers should accept the likely probability of another similar national crisis. COVID dramatically disrupted the food supply.  In the short to medium term, the very same decision makers in place during COVID-19 could be in the same positions when the next crisis unfolds. How they reacted to COVID-19 may serve as a portent of how they will react again, particularly if lessons were not learned and adjustments not made. This article seeks to explain the transcendent lessons of this national emergency, with the hope that knowing them will help decision makers better prepare for next time.  Our food systems, like the larger supply chain will in the future surely be challenged with new kinds of disruptions, making it essential that mistakes are not repeated, and available proactive right solutions are discovered and preparations made for now.

Unleashing the U..S. Military's Thinking About Cyber Power

Unleashing the U.S. Military's Thinking about Cyber Power
Dr. M.A. Thomas, AFCC

Military thinking about computers and networks began as part of a broader discussion of information in war that included both information for humans and signals for machines. Joint doctrine continues to tie cyber power to that discussion even as information was gradually narrowed to focus on information for humans, leaving cyber attacks with physical effects out of the discussion. To ensure that the Department of Defense is poised to exploit and defend against the full range of cyber capabilities, cyber power should be considered independently of the broader discussion of information.

“Unleashing the US Military’s Thinking About Cyber Power,” War on the Rocks, Nov 4, 2021


Air Force Cyber College Partners with US CYBERCOM

On 6 Jan the Air Force Cyber College (AFCC) became an official partner of the US CYBERCOM Academic Engagement Network (AEN). AEN is an alliance of public and private academic institutions nationwide, collaborating to support and enhance four CYBERCOM Lines of Effort: future workforce, applied cyber research, applied analytics, and strategic issues. The AFCC faculty will help advance DoD’s ongoing strategic dialogue on the cyber domain by engaging with the CYBERCOM staff, the Cyber National Mission Force, and the four service cyber component commands.

Air University News - Air Force Cyber College Selected for Partnership with US CYBERCOM


Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

It's Not Just About Cyber Anymore

Congratulations to Dr. Josh Sipper from the Cyber College on the publication of his recent journal articles.   

"Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and Electromagnetic Warfare Methods for Cyber Signature Production: A Conceptual Model,” Journal of Information Warfare, 20 (3), 108-126. Offers a methodology using the already mature signature production capabilities of intelligence and electromagnetic warfare fields to develop a similar capability for cyber operators.  

"It’s Not Just About Cyber Anymore: Multidisciplinary Cyber Education and Training Under the New Information Warfare Paradigm,” Joint Forces Quarterly, Joint Forces Quarterly 100 (1), 49-56.  Discusses approaches to teaching cyber security, given that information-related capabilities (IRCs) enable military offensive, defensive, and exploitative operations at multiple levels.

Case StudyThumbnail

Air Force Cyber College Dilemma Case Workshop

The Air Force Cyber College's Dilemma Case Workshop began on 13 January.  A cadre of 15 participants from within the United States Air Force, the United States Army, academia, and industry were competitively selected from among applicants who responded to a call for abstracts last fall.  Each submitted a promising abstract on a topic related to cyber strategy, policy, or leadership. 

The MGM Werx workshops, like projects like the AFCC virtual cyber seminar, foster an emerging community of practice around information and cyber warfare education. Such projects create space for professional military educators at Air University's different schools to connect, build and showcase their expertise and engage with cyber scholars and practitioners from the wider academic and policy realm.

This was the first of three full-day workshop sessions designed to guide participants in crafting educational cases eligible for use in classrooms to advance analysis of wicked problems dealing with cyberspace.  The final two sessions of the workshop will proceed into next month, assisting participants as they craft their cases and materials.  “The objective is to create educationally relevant and probing scenario packets and teaching materials that can be used in professional military education and other classrooms to help students think deeply about how cyber impacts security issues,” noted Dr. Karen Guttieri, Dean of the Air Force Cyber College.  

Workshop participant and Senior Advisor with the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Brandon Valeriano, praised the event saying, “The PME community needs to reform to battle the scourge of cyber warfare. This will only come through the careful development of knowledge about the cyber domain and its impact on other operational domains. Case studies, simulations, and computational wargames are all modern methods to analyze the future of war utilizing empirical investigation and immersive methods to simulate thinking about modern warfare.”

Cyber College faculty are leading the workshop in partnership with MGMWERX and with assistance from Dr. Volker Franke of Kennesaw State University.  Air Force Cyber College’s Dr. Nick Sambaluk is leading the case study series, which has already published five cases available through the Case Studies tab on the college’s website [].

Weaponizing Cyberspace

Weaponizing Cyberspace

Congrats Dr. Sambaluk. His book is forthcoming with Praeger Weaponizing Cyberspace: Inside Russia’s Hostile Activities.  The Russian regime's struggle for internal control drives multifaceted actions in cyberspace that do not stop at national borders. Cybercrime, technical hacking, and disinformation are complementary tools to preserve national power internally while projecting effects onto myriad neighbors and rivals. Russia's modus operandi in disinformation campaigning is specifically to find and exploit existing sore spots in other countries. In the U.S., this often means inflaming political tensions among people on the far left and far right. Russia's actions have taken different forms, including the sophisticated surveillance and sabotage of critical infrastructure, the ransoming of data by criminal groups, and a welter of often mutually contradictory disinformation messages that pollute online discourse within and beyond Russia. Whether deployed to contribute to hybrid war or to psychological fracture and disillusionment in targeted societies, the threat is real and must be understood and effectively addressed.

Joint Starr Crest 

AFCC Educates Joint and Allied Special Operators through Joint Staff Collaboration

Air Force Cyber College professors Anthony Franks and Dr. Michael Thomas traveled Joint Warfighter Center in Suffolk, Virginia on November 16 – 17, 2021 to teach Cyber Fundamentals for Special Operations Forces (SOF) Operators to a group of 20 students from the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron (Air National Guard), Naval Special Warfare Group, US Army Special Operations Command Rangers, Canadian Forces SOF, and Joint Staff J6 Coalition Interoperability Division.

After attending this 2-day course, one member of the Joint Staff J6 Coalition Interoperability Division said, “Within one day we had immediate applicability of the Cyber Fundamentals Course, where we in the Special Operations Command could learn and apply the academic course objectives into future joint and coalition operations for our defense community.”  He went on to say, “This course is a complete homerun, and we want this course to be THE standard that we send ALL Special Operators to, learning about cyber capabilities and the integration of these effects into defense operations.”

Fly, Patch, and Don't Lose

AFCC Case Studies in Use by 333rd Training Squadron at Keesler AFB in Mississippi

Cyber College’s vision, developing case studies for us to use in our curriculum and also making them available for others to use, is already coming true. Capt Kevin Goehring of the 333rd Training Squadron at Keesler AFB in Mississippi used an exercise written by Team Cyber’s own Col Kevin Parker, titled “Fly, Patch, and Don’t Lose,” when he recently taught the Undergraduate Cyber Warfare Training (UCWT) course. Col Parker’s case explores the interaction between cybersecurity and Air Force operational missions. Capt Geohring reported that participants “loved the real-world connection and the exposure to cyber and how it ties into operations outside of the unit level.”    

Air Force Cyber College calls for submission of cyber and information dilemma-focused case studies to contribute to our pool of table top and role play exercises to promote critical thinking in the classroom. Successful applicants will be invited to our workshop and completed cases may be selected for funding. 

Can't Sail Away From Cyber Attacks: "Sea-hacking" From Land

The warnings had been issued for years. The techniques were simple enough — penetrate the platform through the onboard navigation system and then go horizontally across the onboard networks to gain control of key systems such as steering and the throttle. The hackers did exactly this — surprisingly without foreknowledge of the specific systems they were to hack prior to beginning the penetration. They were in and through the navigation interface in a remarkably short time and had control of both the steering systems and the throttle in quick succession. From this effort came a coveted “Black Badge” from the Maritime Hacking village of the annual cyber security conference DefCon, held in August 2021 in Las Vegas.
Military Technology Development: Wold War 1

Military Technology Development:  World War

The geographic stability of World War I’s Western Front drove unprecedented levels and forms of technological innovation.  Dr. Nicholas Sambaluk spotlights several key tech areas about a struggle that changed warfare, in a lunchtime talk on 27 September, 2021, with Purdue's uniformed officers. Purdue extends a tuition-paid opportunity for a cadre of uniformed officers, usually seeking engineering degrees of one kind or another, to study for their PhD gratis to the government.  This year, that cadre is 40 officers strong, and the coordinators requested a lecture about historical examples of military innovation. 

  The Challenge of Educating the Military on Cyber Strategy

Adm (ret) Mark Montgomery and others of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission feature AF Cyber College in a commentary about cyber strategy education in War on the Rocks. The authors state “each of the services should be offering significant programs in cyber strategy at their war colleges. The Air Force Cyber College sets a strong example of what this could look like.” The article labels the AFCC, NPS and CIC “as exemplars in the professional military education system [that] should be enhanced and institutionalized, so they are not at risk with each change of command or changes in leadership at the national level.”