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Air Force conducts network-defense exercise
Computer, network, hacker
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Christopher Lupo verifies the configuration of the tactics development facility during Black Demon, a two-week exercise focused on Air Force network defense. Mr. Lupo is an Air Force Information Warfare Center contractor here. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Robert J. Krause)

by Masao Doi
Air Intelligence Agency Public Affairs


4/1/2004 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Air Force officials finished a two-week computer network-defense exercise March 26, which validated and strengthened the Air Force's ability to defend its network against a wide range of attacks.

About 200 people at network operations security centers and associated network control centers Air Force-wide experienced and overcame various tactical situations as part of Black Demon, the largest exercise of its kind within the Department of Defense.

These situations included testing operations against network attack, reconnaissance, denial of service, loss of network-defense tools, insider threats, malicious logic and loss of firewall.

Training was the primary objective of Black Demon, said Brig. Gen. Gregory H. Power, 8th Air Force vice commander and leader of the exercise.

"I think that's the overarching goal . to train our crews in these network operations and security centers to understand the threats that are out there to the Air Force network and the network in general," he said.

The exercise exposed participants to realistic scenarios simulating network attacks to improve their ability to discern and respond to real attacks.

Air Force Information Warfare Center workers here teamed up with about 450 professionals for the exercise. They included people from the Air Intelligence Agency, Air Force Communication Agency, the Air Staff, all nine Air Force major commands and the Air National Guard.

Team members planned the exercise and developed mission scenarios providing realistic training opportunities for exercise participants.

The exercise control center at the 23rd Information Operations Squadron served as the hub of the two-week event. Team members provided centralized command and control, evaluation, dedicated data collection and oversight of aggressor-force activities for 22 locations at 14 Air Force installations worldwide.

A range network was designed to simulate the operational Air Force network. Conducting an exercise on the range network allowed people to practice responding to cyber attacks without disrupting the operational Air Force network.

"By using the range, we segregate play from the operational environment, reducing the risk of spillage. The use of the Virtual Private Network does not allow any of the aggressive actions to bleed over into normal day-to-day ops," said Chief Master Sgt. Stephanie D. Harwell, AFCA network strategies and tactics superintendent.

This year's exercise represented an improvement over the previous one conducted two years ago all major commands participated, said Lt. Col. John Bansemer, 23rd Information Operations Squadron commander.

"The Air Force will continue to improve its defenses," Colonel Bansemer said. "We recognize that just as there are new types of attacks that hit our systems, we have to be able to respond to those."