Cyber

US Air Force seeks research to boost operational technology’s cybersecurity

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Air Force cyber systems unit is asking industry to research and develop operational technology solutions for missions in cyberspace.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division posted a request for information online July 21 seeking “system development lifecycle support and/or component technology research and development for a wide range of OT [operational technology] in support of on-going and emerging cyberspace operations.”

Responses are intended to help the service plan for a related acquisition and contracting strategy.

The Air Force noted that operational technology encompasses a wide variety of systems, including industrial control systems, supervisory control and data acquisition systems, the industrial Internet of Things, wired and wireless telematics, and the IT tech on which cyber operations rely.

The notice stated that responses should include a statement of available capabilities that relate to operational technology cyber solutions to support defensive and/or offensive cyber operations. Specifically, the notice stated emphasis should be placed on three areas:

  • Engineering analysis and vulnerability research of operational technology relevant to specific user requirements.
  • Design, exploitation, development, testing, delivery and integration of operational technology cyber solutions in the context of the user’s operational environment.
  • Provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities.

The Defense Department has placed increasing importance on the need for operational technology cybersecurity, especially for defensive purposes, after preceding with a focus on IT.

This year, U.S. Cyber Command’s keystone training exercise that took place in June focused on the defense of an air base’s critical infrastructure to include industrial control systems, the power grid, air traffic control radars and electronic access control systems. The attacks came in the form of malware that targeted devices responsible for fuel and power.

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