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January 28, 2016
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The US Air Force has launched its first fully operational cyberspace weapons system in a move to protect Internet traffic transmitted over its Air Force Information Network.
This system, otherwise known as the Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) weapon system, acts as a firewall for the military branch's network, which serves more than 1 million Air Force users across 237 sites worldwide.
In creating this layer of protection, the Air Force consolidated more than 100 regionally managed network entry points on the Air Force Information Network into 16 centrally managed points. These will channel all traffic, according to an announcement by the Air Force Space Command.
"As the first line of defense for our network, the 26th NOS team is responsible for more than one billion firewall web, and email blocks per week from suspicious and adversarial sources," Col. Pamela Woolley, 26th Cyberspace Operations Group commander, said in a statement. "Our network is under constant attack and it is a testament to the dedication of our 26th NOS team that our network reliability and traffic flow remains consistently high."
Indeed, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had their email system hacked last year, according to a CNN report. In 2013 the US Navy had its largest breach of unclassified documents in a cyberattack believed to have been carried out by hackers in Iran, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The Air Force has been working on building up its cyberweapons capability for a number of years. In 2012, the Air Force issued a call to defense contractors to submit concept papers that would help the military build its offensive cyber weapons. It took the unusual step of outlining its needs in detail for cyberweapons.
In its request for concept papers, the Air Force asked for ideas on "the employment of cyberspace capabilities to destroy, deny, degrade, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries' ability to use the cyberspace domain to his advantage."
With the Air Force Intranet Control Weapon System fully operational, the Air Force has other cyberspace weapons systems it is working on, including the Air Force Cyberspace Defense Weapon System.
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About the Author(s)
Associate Editor, Dark Reading
Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's News.com, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool. More recently, she served as associate editor for technology careers site Dice.com.
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