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Members of the ATAC-13 Team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Hilary Tebo)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE, Ohio – Members of the Advanced Tactical Acquisition Corps (ATAC) Team 13 recently provided recommendations to senior U.S. Air Force leaders, outlining actions the service should consider as it works to improve cyber resiliency of aircraft in the fleet.
“We made two main recommendations,” said Robert Mosley, a contracting officer and member of ATAC-13. “The first was that we [Air Force] need to utilize the model-based risk assessment (MBRA) tools more, and the second recommendation was that we should use the Operation Vulcan Logic (OVL) system.”
MBRA tools are digital cybersecurity software that can perform virtual analysis and penetration testing of digital copies of Air Force aircraft.
“This process [MBRA] can yield much more data and identify many more potential [cyber] vulnerabilities than a typical human table-top,” said Collin Rust, program manager and ATAC-13 member. “It also serves to bolster cyber resiliency and survivability by giving the Air Force a more thorough analysis of its weapons' reactions to threats. These MBRA tools also provide consistency and time-savings. We felt strongly enough about [MBRA tools] to recommend to senior leaders that their future usage among weapon system programs become mandatory, and that more funding and manpower be allocated towards providing one or more of these tools to the acquisition force as enterprise solution(s).”
In recommending OVL for wide-spread use across the Air Force, the ATAC team selected a proven process currently used by a number of Air Force units, said Mosley.
OVL is an agile authorization process that helps organizations tackle and communicate cyber risks. It is tool agnostic, and can be used with MBRA tools.
Ultimately, the ATAC-13 team envisions a future where systems and programs utilize both the OVL process and a MBRA toolset; consequently creating an Air Force environment that is responsive and effective in mitigating cyber threats, added Rust.
Over the course of three months, the team traveled across the country to meet with Air Force and industry leaders in order to gain a better understanding of cyber security needs, and develop acquisition best practices and recommendations.
Founded in 2016 as a leadership development program for mid-level Air Force acquisition professionals, ATAC provides the next generation of acquisition leaders with an opportunity to help solve Department of the Air Force challenges.
The program combines academic coursework, teaming, and mentorship opportunities. Some of the opportunities this year and in previous years have been at world renowned organizations such as MIT Lincoln Laboratories, Harvard University, the Central Intelligence Agency, Georgetown University, the University of Tennessee, University of California, Berkeley, Amazon, Apple and Google.
“This program [ATAC] really opened my eyes to what happens at the higher levels of Air Force leaderships,” said Rust. “We received unprecedented access to Air Force leadership and got to hear their unique perspective. We were able to see behind the ‘curtain,’ and it has been really valuable for me.”
The following individuals are members of ATAC-13:
Capt. James Goljan, Space Systems Command
Capt. Ethan Hollenbach, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Sylvia Laravie, Air Force Research Laboratory
Robert Mosley, Air Force Test Center
Amos Mwesigwa, Air Force Research Laboratory
Capt. Chris Nichols, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Hollen Partington, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Collin Rust, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Mike Vlk, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center