Air Force Print Today
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas
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
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
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
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
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
"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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