Total security eludes the AF
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Dec 15, 1997
The service is deploying the Automated Security Incident Measurement System at 108 Air
Force bases worldwide to support its information warfare defense program. Developed in
1993 by the Air Force Information Warfare Center at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, ASIMS
monitors, detects and measures attacks against the service's networks.
The problem with ASIMS is that it does not operate in real time, said Maj. Gen. George
Lampe, the Air Force's deputy director of information and communications. Rather than
alerting operators to a breach in network security, the system merely records intrusion
detection data for review by Kelly AFIWC staff later in the day.
"ASIMS is enabling us to do a lot of things that before we couldn't even think
about," Lampe said last month at Milcom '97. "It is not the answer, however. Nor
are guards and firewalls the answer either."
The service is setting up base network control centers at all bases to monitor
networks. BNCCs centrally manage Air Force base-level voice, video, data, imagery and
The center staffs protect information by monitoring, detecting and deflecting attacks
by hackers trying to gain access to base computers.
"We've been a lot better with Air Force network control centers in the fixed
environment than we have been in the deployed mode," Lampe said.
A blend of intrusion-detection guards, firewalls and similar tools, coupled with
training and common access points, will provide the best line of network defense, he said.
"But there's a lot more to protecting our networks than just information
protection," Lampe said. "The threat to our information connectivity is not
always from outside. We are a threat to ourselves.
"We do about as much damage to ourselves unintentionally than people on the
outside do on purpose."
That's why it is vital to train, license and certify system administrators and network
managers, Lampe said.
The Air Force has deployed safety training software to teach computer users the dangers
of information warfare and how to keep the systems safe from hackers.
Lt. Gen. William Donahue, Air Force director of information and communications, briefed
the service's four-star generals late last month on his plan for improving the operation
and management of the Air Force's networks.
"We've got to catch up with ourselves. Networks have sprung up overnight, and
we've got a lot of backtracking to do to make sure we're doing the job right," Lampe