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CHIPS Articles: Innovation at the cyber level

Innovation at the cyber level
By Airman 1st Class Alexis Docherty, Holloman Air Force Base Public Affairs Office - November 8, 2017
Following a Department of Defense directive, the Air Force is transitioning to a Microsoft Windows 10 secure host baseline. This transition, occurring in conjunction with Air Force wide laptop deployments, will provide a shared baseline for Air Force cyber operators to manage, resulting in lower information technology costs and streamlining the IT operating environment.

As a result, Holloman Air Force Base’s 49th Communications Squadron has been working to standardize the installation of Windows 10 base-wide.

However, installing this operating system to Holloman’s computers is more challenging than it sounds. Staff Sgt. Salvador Chavez, a 49th CS cyber system operator who was initially tasked with installing Windows 10 to Holloman’s computers in July 2017, learned this when updating his first batch of laptops.

“I was having issues because I was updating one system at a time, with one hard-drive, and it was a very lengthy process,” Chavez said. “We got hit with a deployment cycle, so in order to maximize our efficiency with the minimal amount of people that we had on hand, I took it upon myself to start creating the server.”

Chavez, with the assistance of Airman 1st Class Brandon Bradshaw, a 49th CS cyber system operator, created a server that enables cyber operators to install Windows 10, and various other programs such as Adobe and Java, to Holloman’s computers at a faster rate.

The server, which took more than 80 man hours to create, has resulted in more efficient image processing and simultaneous patch installation, reducing the workload of Holloman’s 49th CS personnel and minimizing operational costs.

“What we ended up doing in order to cut down the [installation] time was create a server with a set of rules and instructions for the systems,” Chavez said. “We went from updating one system in five to six hours, to updating 40-50 systems at once within two and a half hours. My counterpart, Bradshaw, is very knowledgeable in script, so he was doing a lot of proofreading; making sure that everything was good to go.”

According to Chavez, the team, which now consists of several Airmen, is currently slated to install Windows 10 to approximately 1,800 laptops by December 2017. With 5,600-6,200 users on Holloman’s network at any given time, the goal is to have approximately 6,000 laptops updated by March 2018.

Airmen seeking to improve dated or ineffective unit or squadron procedures are encouraged to voice their concerns, as well as their ideas for improvements or solutions, to their supervision.

“Innovation is important in the world of cyber, as new threats and viruses are introduced every single day,” Bradshaw said. “There will never be one solution to fix everything—you will always have to keep learning, researching and adapting to what is changing in the world.”

Information from another Air Force article was used in the publication of this article.

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