14th TES participates at AFCEA Cyberspace Symposium


NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — For the seventh year in a row, the 14th Testing Squadron, an operational testing squadron that partners with the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center here, participated in the gathering of both industry and governments combined known as the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Cyberspace Symposium.

The AFCEA Cyberspace Symposium, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the month of February is an annual event geared towards bringing together a broad range of people in the technological arena in order to discuss and solve problems that exist in their field.

“Forums like the Cyberspace Symposium give an opportunity for governments and industry to come together in a professional environment and discuss problems and potential solutions,” said Dean Hullings, 2016 vice program chairman of the Cyberspace Symposium. “It’s a networking and technology sharing forum, the annual event in the month of February broadens the scope and bring together lots of people.”

With each passing year Rocky Mountain Chapter of AFCEA choses new topics to highlight and discuss that pertain to the ever changing landscape of cyberspace technology.

“Every year we have a different theme, and we bring in different speakers and panelists that talk to those themes,” said Hullings. “In 2015, our theme was about sending cyberspace and how it needs more than technology, it needed policy changes and acquisition changes and solutions. This year, the theme was wrapped around managing risk.”

This theme of managing risk stems from the concept that not all things can be shielded in cyberspace, so taking an intelligent approach and safeguarding what is vital is a necessity.

“You can’t block everything in cyberspace, so we have to take more of a risk based assessment of what’s happening on our network and protect the things that are important to us and focus our attention there,” said Hullings.

The 14th TS took this premise and portrayed it in the four booths, two more than were presented last year, at the Cyberspace Symposium.
“The point of the 14TS booth is to demonstrate to attendees how easy cyber exploitation is, and to share advice on how to counter some of the more common threats,” said Maj. Marc J. Weber, 14th TS technical director.

Fitting with the 2016 theme of managing risk, the 14th TS hosted a Cyber Exploitation booth with live demonstrations of various hacking techniques including, radio-frequency identification skimming, where a handheld copier was used to duplicate badges and access locks, home exploitation, where different techniques were used to hack into common home Wi-Fi routers, A live malicious hotspot, where fake malicious hotspots were setup and would warn the user of the dangers of connecting to unknown hotspots, and Windows 7 hacking, where devices were used to compromise and control a standard desktop.

“You can’t block everything in cyberspace, so we have to take more of a risk based assessment of what’s happening on our network and protect the things that are important to us and focus our attention there,” said Hullings.

The 14th TS offers a unique view to all that attended the symposium of how the Air Force runs their cyber systems.

“Having a unit like the 14th Test Squadron presenting real vulnerabilities and how they could potentially be hacked provide the attendees of the CYBERSPACE Symposium a behind-the-curtain look at how the Air Force assesses their space systems,” Maj. Andrew Heo, Regional Young AFCEA vice president. “No longer can we be reactive to events in cyber; we have people on the ground who are being proactive and finding serious flaws in our systems.”

The unique venue in which the AFCEA Cyberspace Symposium provides allows the 14th a perfect atmosphere in order to show liabilities in many different forms of platforms with in the cyberspace arena.

“The cyberspace symposium is a great venue for the squadron to demonstrate vulnerabilities to military, U.S. government, and civilian professionals who work in the cyberspace domain,” said Lt. Col. Rob Jackson, 14th TS Commander. “When we think of cyberspace threats, we typically focus on our Personal Computers and networks, but cyberspace threats exist everywhere in today’s electronic world. Even something as simple as a radio frequency identification access card or a common power strip can be used for cyberspace exploitation. This event gives us an opportunity to provide helpful suggestions on how to mitigate those threats. I am proud of this year’s team as they have worked very hard to add more demonstrations to highlight current exploitation tactics and techniques. This symposium continues to be a great forum for the squadron to represent the 926th Wing and Air Force Reserve Command and I look forward to the squadron participating in next year’s event.”

With the partnership of the 14th TS and the AFECA being a mutually beneficial one it’s apparent that both are excited for the next year’s symposium to share more advancements in their field.