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United States Government The Almighty Buck The Military Hardware

Air Force Firewall Now Designated a Weapons System ( 137

An anonymous reader writes with a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette that the U.S. Air Force Space Command has declared its first cyber "weapons system" operational. The weapon, deemed fully operational this month, is basically a big firewall designed to protect the Air Force's internal 1 million-user network from hackers. It will be a hot topic at the Rocky Mountain Cyber Symposium, which is expected to draw hundreds of computer experts to The Broadmoor for a four-day confab starting Monday." More from the article about why a firewall would be called a weapon: The biggest reason for the weaponization push is financial: When it comes to budget battles, weapons, even those with a keyboard and a mouse, get cash from Congress. "Designating something as a weapons system really does help us justify our funding," Col. Pamela Wooley, who commands the Alabama-based 26th Cyberspace Operations Group, which includes the new weapon.
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Air Force Firewall Now Designated a Weapons System

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Saturday January 30, 2016 @08:45PM (#51406345)
    • Plus, if we call it a weapon and we catch you with one, we'll just ignore all of your rights and treat you with "extreme prejudice". And no second amendment bullshit, the second amendment does not say that you have the right to own a firewall.
    • "firewall".... so it erects a wall of fire? Fund that sucker! Put one on the Mexican border!

    • It's probably easier than finding a justification that it "keeps out them terrorists" or something like that. Had it been civilian, they'd probably asked for extra funding "to stop the kiddie porn" or otherwise "to protect the children".

  • So maybe the poor should re-define themselves as "potential suicide-bombers" to be treated just as generous?
    • Oh, be serious. The poor should refer to themselves as veterans so when a suicide bomb finally does go off in the United States the Republicans will finally be interested in helping them!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

        That won't help at all. The Republican party does a decent job of creating veterans. Helping them, not so much.

      • Oh, be serious. The poor should refer to themselves as veterans so when a suicide bomb finally does go off in the United States the Republicans will finally be interested in helping them!

        I hope they do better than the VA under the Democrats - helping them right into the grave!

  • by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Saturday January 30, 2016 @08:51PM (#51406377) Homepage

    Unless this has some ridiculous hack-back-attack capabilities, complete with a nerdy looking airman typing as fast as humanly possible to "execute" the hack back attack, Congress may have to start looking a bit closer at these "weapons systems."

    We need more toilet paper for the bathroom.
    Here you go.
    WTF? Why does this toilet paper have pictures of guns on it?
    This is weaponized toilet paper. It helps with allocating funding...

    • by p0p0 ( 1841106 )
      Hey as long as it's a 2-ply weapons system I'm all for wide-scale deployment.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Yes all that cyber cash is starting to spread wide and deep.
      The back part has been on the books for a while now.

      "U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show" (August 30, 2013) []
      under GENIE for "“.. covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted .."

      For first time, US military says it would use offensive cyberweapons (Mar 14, 2013) []
      "This is an offensive team"
  • Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Saturday January 30, 2016 @09:30PM (#51406539) Homepage Journal

    weapon [wep-uh n]

    1. any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat, fighting, or war, as a sword, rifle, or cannon.
    2. anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim:
    the deadly weapon of satire.
    3. Zoology. any part or organ serving for attack or defense, as claws, horns, teeth, or stings.

    It's no more surprising than storing weapons in an armory.

  • 1. Weaponize Tetras

    2. ???

    3. Profit!!!

    Note: ??? == Congressional Funding, for all values of ???

  • Do i need a weapon license now?

  • so people working on such 'weapons' are now legitimate military targets?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    According to Wikipedia:

    308,016 active personnel
    180,084 civilian personnel
    71,400 reserve personnel
    106,700 air guard personnel

    That is only 666,000 people.

    • Maybe they counted the 350,000+ wannabees that walk around the shopping mall dressed in camo?

    • The civilian count is likely only counting Civil Servants. Contractors could very easily make up the difference.

  • "The weapon .. is basically a big firewall designed to protect the .. network from hackers."

    A basic firewall blocks connecting based on a table of IP address and port combinations. If the 'firewall' can't identify malicious connections then it's next to useless. So called 'stateful inspection firewalls' utilize a man-in-the-middle hack, only work by installing a fake cert on the client browser, decrypts passing data and supposedly identifies malicious code. Which begs the question, if the MITM firewall c
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Maybe 'firewall' is a metaphor and it really is something different.

      (I doubt it, but it is possible.)

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      That's only one subset (there's a lot of traffic that is not encrypted) and IMHO an incredibly stupid thing to do but people still do it. I'm waiting for the obvious to happen and someone in charge of one of the devices with fake certs running off with a pile of credit card details resulting in a bank suing the criminals employer into oblivion. Those increasingly common firewalls with the MITM attack are mostly just there to keep people off facebook on work time and few have worked out how much of a liabi
  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    If it's classified as a weapon, it is covered by ITAR [] and can't be easily exported. So other nations can't install one of their own from a regulated vendor (country) and block attacks from Pentagon cyber warfare systems or probes by the NSA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30, 2016 @11:45PM (#51407043)

    Fair warning/full disclosure: I"m an Airmen in the USAF.

    A 'weapon system' is a special designation. Lots of things are weapon systems. A truck is a weapon system. Every weapon system gets a System Program Office (SPO) that is responsible for developing, managing, updating/upgrading/improving the weapon system. Weapon systems have full certification processes that the SPO oversees. Think change management on steroids.

    Want to modify the weapon system? Better clear it with the SPO. If you don't, it just became de-certified and you can't deploy it. If it were a plane, that would mean its grounded.

    Without knowing more details other than their is a weapon system that is a firewall, that would mean that the hardware and software gets certified before it is deployed (turned on/plugged in). Chances are there are standard configurations that are then mandated.

    This also means that its going to be heavily vetted. Chances are its not a commercial-off-the-shelf device., but if it is they'd be taking it apart looking for backdoors and other exploits.

    So personally I'm excited by this, but then I know what it means...

    • So the misunderstanding, as so often happens, is because a word has a specific meaning within a certain community that differs from the meaning of that word in the general population?

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      It's still not a fucking weapons system.

      Good luck btw getting the SPO to respond quickly enough to keep the damn thing patched and properly configured.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Disclaimer: I am US military officer (not the same AC as above), not an expert on cybersecurity or the legal details of US foreign weapons sales. I agree that firewalls are not a weapon.

        That being said, I suspect that, in addition to the funding aspect mentioned in the summary, this is a legal maneuver to protect the details of this particular firewall. Generally firewalls are fair game for export worldwide (as they should be in my opinion) under the terms of the Wassenaar Arrangement [] (see Category

  • How about global thermonuclear war?
  • After all, they can't call it FW-1 or , if you prefer, Firewall One.

  • Another idea for a weapons system - more pay for the top brass.

    You could justify it in the same way that in many / most companies, senior management claims that higher pay and bonuses for directors motivates them to make more profit. Could you depend on a general who does not get at least, say, twenty times as much as the ordinary airman?

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @11:14AM (#51408701)

    This is my computer. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

    My computer is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

    My computer, without me, is useless. Without my computer, I am useless. I must comment my code in detail. I must hack truer than my enemy who is trying to pwn me. I must pwn him before he pwns me. I will...

    My computer and I know that what counts in war is not the darkness of the cubicle, the temperature of the coffee, nor the dust of the Doritos. We know that it is the lines of code we commit. We will commit...

    My computer is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its CPU and its memory. I will keep my computer patched and updated, even as I am patched and updated. We will become part of each other. We will...

    Before God, I swear this creed. My computer and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

    So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

  • So to get decent funding, we just need to redesignate our physical borders as weapons!

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard