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[ISN] Closing enemy windows of opportunity


Air Force Print Today

The team is huddled around a laptop outside an enemy compound. One of 
the team members adjusts the image on the laptop and the picture becomes 
clear. Now the team can see the display of the enemy's computer, on a 
secure network, on the fifth floor of the building.

After a decade of information warfare and Air Force leaders' recognition 
of cyberspace as a war fighting domain, this kind of 'hack' may not seem 

However, this network intrusion occurred because the team was able to 
detect emissions from a computer monitor inside the building. They were 
then able to turn radiated energy into a live feed on their laptop, just 
as if they had plugged a second monitor into the computer inside.

The bad news: this can happen to your computer, telephone, radio or data 
link. It can happen on the ground or in the air. It can even happen if 
you are transmitting securely.

The good news: this is an Air Force team.  The Emissions Security flight 
at the 346th Test Squadron is a subordinate unit of the Air Force 
Information Operations Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The 
EMSEC team tests Air Force aircraft, facilities and systems to ensure 
compromising emissions don't provide an adversary with windows into our 
protected networks.

They are the only team in the Air Force to perform this type of 
confidentiality-in-communications testing. Because of their work, 
warfighters have the confidence to use secure communication systems and 
know that they aren't emitting any unintended radio waves that the enemy 
will be able to access and exploit even if the mission calls for 
simultaneous operation of secure and unsecure systems installed in very 
close proximity.

They combine an understanding of electronics, radio signal propagation 
and electromagnetic coupling with digital signaling protocols, 
spread-spectrum techniques and other advanced subjects. They apply this 
knowledge to provide the warfighter with operational confidence in 
secure systems.

Windows of vulnerability occur when the cyberspace domain is established 
carelessly. Doing it right the first time gives Air Force operators an 
advantage against adversary hackers.

Through testing, the EMSEC team ensures vulnerabilities are eliminated 
before establishing a domain and conducting operations.

>From Air Force One to laptop computers, the team provides one layer of 
information assurance for every aspect of the Air Force's air, space and 
cyberspace operations.

They have tested myriad aircraft communication systems to ensure their 
emissions aren't making them vulnerable to an enemy attack.

However, the EMSEC team remains particularly proud of their work for the 

During their most recent inspection of Air Force One, they tested 
improved secure networking, teleconferencing, commercial satellite 
communication and data and voice capability over satellite and 
terrestrial links.

"We keep the lines of communication safe and confidential," said Tech. 
Sgt. Chris Onfore, an EMSEC test technician. "We are the only team in 
the Air Force that can say they provide that type of support to the 
president. It really is a great honor and an important responsibility."

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