HomeNewsArticle Display

AFCYBER evaluates Airmen with spear-phishing emails

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Forces Cyber conducted a mock spear-phishing test on European bases in November to assess Air Force Network users’ cyber awareness.

The test, coordinated with U.S. Air Forces in Europe leaders, incorporated techniques known to be employed by adversary actors against U.S. and partner nations, for the purpose of gaining a foothold inside our networks.

“Spear-phishing attacks are a persistent threat to the integrity of our networks,” said Col. Anthony Thomas, AFCYBER Operations director. “Even one user falling for a spear-phishing attempt creates an opening for our adversaries. Part of mission resiliency is ensuring our Airmen have the proficiency to recognize and thwart adversary actions.”

Spear-phishing attacks differ from normal phishing attempts because they target a specific recipient and appear to be from a trusted source.

For the test, AFCYBER’s threat emulation team sent several emails from non-Department of Defense email addresses to network users. These emails included legitimate-looking content, mirroring tactics used by cyber adversaries. The emails provided a variety of scenarios, urging Airmen to follow certain steps.

One email appeared to come from an Airman & Family Readiness Center, asking users to update a hyperlinked spreadsheet for an upcoming sale. Another email claimed to be from a legal office, and requested users to provide data in a hyperlinked document for a court-martial jury panel.

If users followed the hyperlink, then downloaded and enabled macros in the documents, embedded code would be activated. This allowed the threat emulation team access to their computer.

According to Maj. Ken Malloy, AFCYBER’s primary planning coordinator for the assessment, attacks by state-sponsored groups are sophisticated and can catch users unaware if they’re not paying attention.

“We chose to conduct this threat emulation (test) to gain a deeper understanding of our collective cyber discipline and readiness,” said Malloy. “Lessons from our efforts in USAFE will inform data-driven decisions for improving policy, streamlining processes and enhancing threat-based user training to achieve mission assurance and promote the delivery of decisive air power.”

Results from the test showed most recipients did not fall for the emails. According to the team, the test did not collect individual user information, as it was designed to improve the network’s overall defensive posture.

To protect the network from cyber threats, users should verify every email’s source by verifying that emails from official sources have valid digital signatures. Any embedded links should produce a secure connection, represented by a padlock icon in the browser’s search bar. Users should not enable macros in Microsoft Office documents downloaded from non-DOD sources.

While this initial assessment was conducted specifically in the European theater, Malloy said spear-phishing attempts remain a constant threat to all AFNet users. Users should always be cautious and vigilant. If a malicious email is suspected, users should contact their local communications focal point for guidance.

Engage

Twitter
We train like we fight! ⚔️ Airmen from the 179th Security Forces Squadron practice fire & maneuver ops at the… https://t.co/b40GK1VRtV
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: What an honor & privilege to host a virtual discussion with two #TuskegeeAirmen & @usairforce cadets today. I’m grateful…
Twitter
Looking right into Lightning ⚡ An F-35 Lightning II approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over @CENTCOM. The F-35 Light… https://t.co/Kwa3JoSx19
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Had a great opportunity today to speak with @usairforce leaders in ISR, Cyber and IW at their Virtual Summit. These #Airm
Twitter
Reflecting on the Fortress 🏰 The reflection of a B-52 Stratofortress can be seen in SSgt Brandon Toth's lenses as… https://t.co/lh6jhq18Th
Twitter
Falcons get thirsty too. ⛽ F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over the @CENTCOM area of responsibility. The F-16 is a comp… https://t.co/EBSfhjHhjh
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Mark your calendar for the 2020 Exceptional Family Member Program virtual Summit happening Oct 21 at 9 a.m. CDT. on the Dep…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you #Switzerland for longstanding cooperation & partnership in technical excellence. The @USAirForce values Switze…
Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 fighter aircraft, supported by E-3 airborne warning and control system and…
Twitter
RT @AFEnergy: DYK our engine sustainment initiatives can reduce fuel use by 2-3% AND increase engine performance? #EnergyAbleMissionCapab
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Great coverage of the upcoming @AFRSO Advanced Manufacturing Olympics set for next week in @Forbes. Don't miss this exciting o…
Twitter
Keeping us a #ReadyAF by strengthening partnerships w/our allies! 💪 #AimHigh https://t.co/wmMDgLeTd3
Twitter
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is executing $87 million in critical airfield construction at one of the most i… https://t.co/bRhCVY7X6R
Twitter
Got power? ⚡ This year's energy resilience theme is "Energy Able, Mission Capable." #EnergyAwarenessMonth Follo… https://t.co/yRhhSDQLcT
Twitter
Suicide prevention training is now available for Air Force families as a way to educate spouses, partners, adult fa… https://t.co/68Trsq4AvC
Twitter
Modernizing the force. @NellisAFB was one of the first five @DeptofDefense bases named to host new 5G technology,… https://t.co/aOpGtX2wZq
Twitter
Airmen from Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and @Team_Tinker participated in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care fo… https://t.co/9xKP1H3e3D
Twitter
“Resiliency is readiness & readiness breeds culture.” - @CMSAF_Official Connection to others is a basic human need… https://t.co/s6ktJj7jyX
Twitter
Training to be the best on the worst day. #ReadyAF https://t.co/KGwHLG0oVK
Twitter
.@AFWERX is hosting a "Reimagining Energy for the DOD" challenge, seeking solutions to create the future of resilie… https://t.co/oGKgli3pbd
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,295,047
Follow Us