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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

Air Force Cyber College Image

The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime
  Jessica “Zhanna” Malekos Smith, J.D., AFCC

Since 2018, we estimated that the cost of global cybercrime reached over $1 trillion.

We estimated the monetary loss from cybercrime at approximately $945 billion. Added to this was global spending on cybersecurity, which was expected to exceed $145 billion in 2020. Today, this is $1 trillion dollar drag on the global economy.

This is our fourth report on the cost of cybercrime. Our reports surveyed publicly available information on national losses, and in a few cases, we used data from not-for-attribution interviews with cybersecurity officials. Our 2018 report found that cybercrime cost the global economy more than $600 billion. Our new estimate suggests a more than 50% increase in two years.

 

Air Force Cyber College Science Image Why Not a Space Force? Cautions of Organizational Re-design
Col Kevin L. Parker, USAF
 

The granting of independence to the U.S. Air Force in 1947 and the establishment of U.S. Special Operations Command in 1987 share striking similarities with the Space Force debate in terms of the general security environment and the specific re-organizing proposals. In each case, unique mission sets were differentiated at the highest levels — that is, they were insulated from outside control and elevated within the organization. Space Force could be the next success story to follow this pattern, but organizational design theory and historical experience provide a few cautions regarding growth of headquarters staffs, eased access to senior leaders, resistance to integration, and unmanageable span of control. The benefits of a Space Force, either as its own department or as more modestly proposed by the president’s directive, may well outweigh these cautions, but they deserve careful consideration and attention to potential mitigating strategies.

 

Air Force Cyber College Image Fake News and Information Warfare: An Examination of the Political and Psychological Processes
From the Digital Sphere to the Real World
Dr. Karen Guttieri, AFCC
 

Fake news—false information passed off as factual—is an effective weapon in the information age. For instance, the Russian government perfected techniques used in its 2007 Estonian and 2008 Georgian cyber campaigns to support Donald Trump’s successful candidacy in the 2016 United States presidential election. In this chapter, the authors examine fake news and Russia’s cyberwarfare efforts across time as case studies of information warfare. The chapter identifies key terms and reviews extant political science and psychological research related to obtaining an understanding of psychological cyber warfare (“psywar”) through the proliferation of fake news. Specifically, the authors suggest that there are social, contextual, and individual factors that contribute to the spread and influence of fake news and review these factors in this chapter.

Guadagno, R.E. and Guttieri, K., “Fake News and Information Warfare,” Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online, Innocent E. Chiluwa and Sergei A. Samoilenko, eds. June 2019: 167-191.

 

Air Force Cyber College Science Image Mathematization, Not Measurement: A Critique of Stevens’ Scales of Measurement
Dr. Melissa A. Thomas, AFCC
 

In the early 1900s, physics was the archetypical science and measurement was equated with mathematization to real numbers. To enable the use of mathematics to draw empirical conclusions about psychological data, which was often ordinal, Stevens redefined measurement as “the assignment of numerals to objects and events according to a rule.” He defined four scales of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio) and set out criteria for the permissible statistical tests to be used with each. Stevens' scales of measurement are still widely used in data analysis in the social sciences. They were revolutionary but flawed, leading to ongoing debate about the permissibility of the use of different statistical tests on different scales of data. Stevens implicitly assumed measurement involved mapping to real numbers. Rather than rely on Stevens' scales, researchers should demonstrate the mathematical properties of their data and map to analogous number sets, making claims regarding mathematization explicit, defending them with evidence, and using only those operations that are defined for that set.

 

Air Force Cyber College Image Cyber Realpolitik
James Dever, M.A, J.D, AFCC
 

State-on-state conflict governed by generally clear rules of engagement was the predominant mode of warfare in the mid-twentieth century. Now, almost two decades into the post-9/11 world, state and non-state actors, transnational terrorists, and cyber operators thrive in twilight zones of domestic and international law. The past few years carry signs of troubles to come. Transnational terrorism, struck down in certain areas, but emboldened by twenty years of muddled U.S. and Allied counterterrorism policy, threatens again to break out of its Middle Eastern base. China is stealing U.S. trade secrets at a rate beyond alarming and forcing American companies to work inside China or forfeit profitable trade deals. Russia, a shadow of what it once was during the height of the Soviet Union, now seeks to project strength through information warfare against the West.

 

Air Force Cyber College Science Image

A Conceptual Framework for Defense Acquisition Decision Makers: Giving the Schedule its Due
Dr. Chad L. Dacus, AFCC

 

Conceptual models based on economic and operations research principles can yield valuable insight into defense acquisition decisions. This article focuses on models that place varying degrees of emphasis on each objective of the defense acquisition system: cost (low cost), schedule (short cycle times), and performance (high system performance). The most appealing conceptual model is chosen, which the authors posit that, if adopted, would lead to shifts in priorities that could facilitate better outcomes, as empirical results. Finally, several policy prescriptions implied by the model are briefly explored.

 

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