The Air Force is slated to upgrade to Windows 10 over the next couple years to improve the Air Force’s cybersecurity posture, lower the cost of information technology and streamline the IT operating environment.
Windows 10 provides improved security features to mitigate cyber threats and a common baseline for Air Force cyber operators to manage, thereby reducing costs.
The Air Force is taking this action because the Defense Department directed the transition to a Microsoft Windows 10 secure host baseline across the DOD.
Windows 10 will become the standard operating system for Microsoft Windows clients across the Air Force Network. Other types of clients, such as iPads and other devices that use non-Windows operating systems, are not within the scope of this effort.
As a result of the DOD’s mandate, a significant portion of the Air Force client inventory will need to be replaced.
Migration will begin late 2016 as part of each base’s computer technology refresh efforts. Units are authorized to upgrade existing devices or purchase new tablets and laptops through AFWay and should refrain from purchasing desktops unless their mission dictates otherwise. In many cases, users will receive replacement mobile computers with Windows 10 preloaded, while remaining users will have their existing computers upgraded to the new operating system. Affected users will be informed on how to back up and restore their data.
Systems that currently run Windows 10 will still need to be upgraded to the standard desktop configuration to leverage cyber security improvements. The standard desktop configuration provides a single standard, enterprise-wide managed environment across the Air Force Network.
New security features in Windows 10 will allow the Air Force and DOD to install software patches faster and counter a major cyber-intrusion technique called “pass the hash.” Using this technique, attackers may access remote servers by using a stored hash, or a one-way transformation, of a user’s password rather than the standard plain text password. The new operating system also will increase accountability and transparency across DOD networks, allowing cyber defenders to better detect malicious activity.
Scheduled completion date for all Air Force Network (Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router and Secure Internet Protocol Router networks) users is Jan. 31, 2018.