The Complex

The five deadly Ds of the Air Force’s cyber arsenal

Ever thought the term C4ISR was acronym overkill? Well, here’s another doozy. The Air Force’s fiscal year 2014 budget request includes $11.3 million to develop tools to do, wait for it, "D5." D5 stands for "deceive, degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy." No, it’s not something an awful child does on the playground; it’s what the service ...

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force

Ever thought the term C4ISR was acronym overkill? Well, here’s another doozy. The Air Force’s fiscal year 2014 budget request includes $11.3 million to develop tools to do, wait for it, "D5."

D5 stands for "deceive, degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy." No, it’s not something an awful child does on the playground; it’s what the service wants its cyberweapons to do enemy networks.

Offensive cyber-technologies are being built to allow Air Force cyber operators to secretly infiltrate enemy networks, stay there undetected, steal information, watch what the enemy is doing, resist reverse-engineering should it be discovered, and wreak D5 havoc (cue action-movie music).

Here’s what the service’s program has achieved so far, as described by the Air Force’s budget request:

  • Developed information system access methods and propagation techniques.
  • Developed stealth and persistence technologies and initiated investigation into anti-reverse engineering methods.
  • Developed the capability to exfiltrate information from adversary information systems, developed methods for increased cyber situational awareness and understanding of the battlefield, and developed methods for covert data exchange.
  • Developed technology to deliver D5 (deceive, degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy) effects in concert with cyber platforms.
  • Initiated development of a publish/subscribe architecture for exchange and exfiltration of information while operating within adversary information systems.

What’s left to work on in 2014 besides continuing to develop the capabilities listed above? Start developing a "common operating platform" — the actual computer interface that will allow Air Force cyber-troops to do all of the above.

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