Telltale Cyber Fingerprints

The cyber domain needs to be looked at differently than air and space, said Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, commander of 24th Air Force, USAF’s cyber operations arm. “At the very beginning, you have to get used to the fact you don’t own it,” said Vautrinot of the Internet during her address at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles last week. If someone else’s network has vulnerabilities, one’s own systems could very well have the same ones, she said. While 24th AF participates daily in “full spectrum” operations, ranging from network defense to network attack, she noted that the preponderance of the organization’s activities today focus on information assurance and security technology implementation to ensure that information and intellectual property is secure. Controlling the Internet is a very difficult proposition, she said. “You can make things harder, but you can’t make things impossible,” she explained when discussing network protection from outside intrusion. However, she said cyber airmen have become very good at tracking forensics. “What comes in, has to go back out,” she said. As such, fighting cyber attacks and intrusions is often a balance of “danger and opportunity,” she noted during her Nov. 17 speech.