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First test of 'Net Decoy' system shows promise

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFPN) -- The airmen of the 100th Communications Squadron here hosted the first-ever demonstration of the pioneering "Net Decoy" system, combining two defensive information systems that detect, track and potentially identify cyberspace intruders.

During the latter part of August the Air Force Information Warfare Battlelab, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, has worked with members from the 100th CS and a team of Air Force computer experts from the 92nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron, also at Lackland, "to demonstrate the military value of creating virtual networks (false computer units) designed to decoy attacks and exploits," said Capt. Robert Anderson, project officer for the AFIWB initiative.

Staff Sgt. Michael Thompson, 100th CS, responsible for the evaluation of the Net Decoy demonstration, likens the function of the system to World War II, when Allied forces set up false tanks to fool enemy bombers and expose their movement.

Likewise, Net Decoy sets up false networks that notify system administrators of an intruder's movement without his or her knowledge.

"It not only detects the hacker, but it allows system monitors to observe his movement and potentially track him down," said Thompson.

The operators of Net Decoy expect Mildenhall to stay online with the system after the team's departure.

After the six-month evaluation period here, the Air Force may potentially install the network intrusion system Air Force-wide, said Thompson.

The intrusion detection system makes information more secure, which is important because so many people use and depend on computers for basic Air Force operations, said Airman 1st Class Jack Jennings, 100th CS, who monitors movement in the wing-wide network.

"While physical security has always been a requirement, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important," said Chief Master Sgt. Pam Derrow, 100th CS information systems flight superintendent.

Information superiority, the ability to control and exploit information, remains one of the core competencies of the Air Force.

This system brings new capabilities for information and data defense to the Air Force during this new age of cyberwar, Derrow said.

The Net Decoy system also brings considerable training opportunities to airmen through new technology and products, said Capt. Charles Celnik, 100th CS information systems flight commander.

Net Decoy is "an additional layer of defense with in-depth architecture that gives the Air Force another tool against internal and external intruders in the cyber war," said Anderson. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)

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