How Wright-Patterson Air Force Base trains for cyber defense

DAYTON, Ohio — Cyber hackers bent on chaos could potentially attack water treatment and chemical plants, power grids, financial institutions and disable weapon systems, and have stolen personal data of millions of federal employees and consumers.

Every hour of every day, cyber warriors silently fight an unrelenting war with millions of daily attacks to battle invading adversaries thousands of miles from America’s shores.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in the quiet classrooms of the Center for Cyberspace Research, hundreds of cyber warriors learn offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.

The fight in cyberspace is real.

China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are major cyber adversaries and the biggest threats to national security, said James A. Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

On any given day, the Defense Information Systems Agency contends day with 800 million cyber incidents “that threaten the network,” said Lt. Col. James Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman. In an inner layer of cyber defense, the Air Force blocked 1.3 billion “malicious” cyber intrusions last year alone, said Lt. Col. Mark Reith, CCR director at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security works with the private sector and government agencies to respond to and prevent cyber attacks domestically.

Wright-Patterson itself is a target.

“I don’t think we can talk in specifics, but certainly Wright-Patterson develops some of the most advanced weapon systems the Air Force has,” said Rusty Baldwin, director of cyber research at the defense contractor Riverside Research in Beavercreek and a former Air Force cyber expert. “They’ve got really smart folks out there working on really incredible things so they’re a huge target.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson reportedly has been and likely continues to be a chief target with behind-the-scenes work in hypersonics and autonomy and…

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