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Research

 Research 

The Air Force Cyber College conducts research to lead in the generation and publication of a sufficiently rigorous and robust set of operational theory to guide problem formulation allowing Airmen to leverage the opportunities of new emerging computing and networking technologies while assuring missions against the vulnerabilities of adversary usage.

The College focuses on the research required to provide AF cyber community with cutting edge solutions to their problems. This research is an integral part of the graduate education at Air University for the AF workforce. The core engine that will drive the cyber/EW center are the faculty, student research, methodology and framework development and publications. 

Malicious cyber activity has become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated due to a confluence of social, technological, economic, and political forces. Although the U.S. government (USG) focuses on defending against attacks, efforts to deter attackers before they launch their attacks are often handicapped by the unique features of the cyber domain, such as the ability of attackers to maintain anonymity or pseudonymity.

Recent Publications

  US Policy Response to Cyber Attack on SCADA Systems Supporting Critical National Infrastructure
Maj Scott A. Weed, USAF

This study examines federal efforts to unify the public and private domestic sectors in the defense against cyber attack on the industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that underpin US critical national infrastructure. It describes critical national infrastructure; the role of industrial control and SCADA systems in these sectors; and the panoply of actors, vulnerabilities, late-to-need cybersecurity, and threat trends for these systems. Political and social challenges to achieving greater cybersecurity are examined as are the processes through which the US government divides efforts among its lead cybersecurity agencies and what the responses to a cyber attack on ICS or SCADA might resemble.
  Is Cyber Deterrence Possible?
Col Timothy M. McKenzie, USAF

Deterrence in the cyber domain is drastically different and far more complicated than in the other military domains of air, land, sea, and space. Cyber weapons and offensive cyber techniques are relatively inexpensive and easily obtained or developed. The number of adversary groups capable of attacking US networks is large, and our ability to deter each group will vary based on their motives and levels of risk tolerance. An effective cyber deterrence strategy must be multilayered and use all instruments of US national power. This paper explores the difficulties of deterring unwanted cyber activities, sets some realistic expectations for a deterrence strategy, and offers proposals to help mitigate the problems.
  The Achievable Multinational Cyber Treaty Strengthening Our Nation’s Critical Infrastructure

Col Mark A. Barrera, USAF

Developing cyber norms and institutions has been problematic due to the competing interests of the major state actors in the multinational environment—especially among Russia, China, and the United States—concerning information freedom and access. The author establishes the genesis of this debate and argues that the United States should move beyond it to the issue of protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attack. Addressing the escalating threats to our nation’s infrastructure and networks, the author recommends pursuing an international agreement singularly focused on securing critical infrastructure combined with improving national regulatory and legislative measures for cyber defense.

  Social Media: The Fastest Growing Vulnerability to the Air Force Mission
Lt Col Scott E. Solomon, USAF

The inherent risks and vulnerabilities of the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have cultivated a rich and ripe environment for foreign adversaries and criminals to cherry-pick personal information about Airmen and their missions for nefarious activities. FBI guidance encourages users to reduce their online footprint in cyberspace rather to proliferate it. This paper addresses some of the most common threats and vulnerabilities of the social media environment, the risks of using social media, and current Air Force social media guidance. It recommends revising Air Force social media guidance and outlines cyberspace best practices. An informed workforce can better protect the Air Force mission and reduce the risk of becoming a target of opportunity.

 

Cyber Workforce Retention

Maj William E. Parker IV, USAF

The US Air Force must develop strategies to effectively retain and sustainably build its workforce of 1B4 cyber Airmen. Doing so will be most critical in the next few years as the Air Force continues to increase its contribution to the nation’s cyber mission forces. This study overviews the current cybersecurity human capital environment and explores the evolution of this new breed of warrior and the plan to move this emerging career field from growth to future sustainment. Also examined are public-sector retention study and initiative findings and Department of Defense retention tools—primarily special and incentive pays—for their potential application in supporting cyber Airmen retention. The study concludes with recommendations for initiatives and focus areas to support not only retention of cyber Airmen but also growth and sustainability of this fledgling career field.

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