Cybersecurity Enhancements in the Air Force’s Business Operations Plan

Published: March 06, 2019

USAFBig DataCybersecurityISRPolicy and Legislation

The newly-revised Air Force business operations strategy includes wide-sweeping cybersecurity and cyber operations plans.

The FY 2019-2021 Air Force Business Operations Plan describes how the Air Force plans to transform its business and information technology (IT) operations to meet the requirements of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) to improve military readiness. The plan will do this by “concentrating on three lines of effort: rebuilding readiness and increasing the lethality of the force, strengthening alliances and attracting new partners and reforming business practices for greater performance and affordability,” according the Air Force media release.

Enhancing Air Force Cybersecurity Capabilities

One of the department’s overall business objectives, and in the area of IT specifically, is to advance their cybersecurity capabilities, including increasing their ability to deter, detect, defeat, and recover from cyber-attacks.

Enhancement activities and estimated completion dates include:

End of FY 2019

  • Develop and mature supply chain risk management processes for cyber

End of FY 2021

  • Leverage the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems to enable military operations, build cyber resiliency into weapon systems being developed and fielded, and mitigate vulnerabilities of fielded systems
  • Build cybersecurity and cyber resiliency test capabilities to identify and reduce cyber risk across weapon systems, critical infrastructure, and the nuclear enterprise
  • Conduct continuous endpoint monitoring with advanced remediation and detection, application of assured credentials, and end-to-end cyber visibility

End of Q1, FY 2023

  • Develop, field, and fund a cyber analytics big data platform (BDP) that leverages existing BDPs in use by the Defense Information Service Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, and others
  • Mature processes to characterize enterprise risk across information systems (starting in Q4, FY 2019)

End of FY 2023

  • Develop, field, and fund remote data collection/remote data processing capabilities for defense of the Air Force Network (AFNET)

End of FY 2026

  • Continue to pursue mission assurance for weapon systems in a cyber-contested environment to enable military operations and reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities to infrastructure, weapon systems, and business systems (starting in Q1, FY 2020)
  • Develop, field, and fund Mission Defense Teams across the Service to defend local installations and critical mission tasks from cyber-attacks (starting in Q1, FY 2020)

Data Security for Decision Support

Through its Chief Data Office (CDO) the Air Force is pursuing its CDO Data Platform for secure, cloud-based data services and tools to leverage Air Force data. The CDO Enterprise Information Model aims to improve cybersecurity and to aid data-driven decisions. Overall, CDO services are seeking to increase data security and address vulnerabilities while increasing the availability and usability of data for decision support. This includes upgrading all Air Force data environments to the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) beginning in Q2, FY 2019.

Risk Management Framework

To embed greater security into each of their IT investments by the end of FY 2019 the Air Force will require an Authorizing Official’s endorsement of the risk management framework implementation prior to a program manager expending funds for system design, procurement, fielding, or upgrades.

Integration of ISR and Cyber Operations

On the cyber-defense front, the Air Force is part of the Cyberspace Mission Force (CMF), providing over 1,700 active and reserve personnel to defend the nation against strategic cyber-attacks. These teams reached full operational capability in May 2018.

On offense, to reflect the evolutionary shift in the Air Force’s warfighting capability in the cyber domain the service will transition it cyber effects and warfighting integration mission areas into the Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) structure by the end of Q2, FY 2019, resulting in a single Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR and Cyber Effects Operations.

The organization integration will drive the operational integration of Air Force ISR with cyber capabilities through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Mission Partner Environment to affect a deeper integration of current and future ISR with cyber capabilities by the end of FY 2023.

According to Air Force CIO Matthew Donovan, Air Force business operations leaders will report their progress on a quarterly basis to ensure advancement and the plan will be reviewed and updated on a semi-annual basis to adapt to emerging environmental and strategic factors.