An inside look: What’s it take to be a cyber warrior?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Air Force Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Research Director Lt.Col Mark Reith talks cyber threats.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

They aren’t traditional warriors.

They don’t slog through muddy battlefields or pilot planes.

Their adversaries are silent, marching through computer networks, often thousands of miles outside of U.S. shores.

Cyber operations are a big part of modern warfare — an absolutely crucial part for the United States, say experts — and the education for many takes place here at Wright-Patterson.

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The Department of Defense has a force of about 5,000 cyber operators with a targeted goal of nearly 1,200 more by the end of next year.

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Graduate students analyze signals as they research the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth networks and devices at the Air Force Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Graduate students analyze signals as they research the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth networks and devices at the Air Force Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Graduate students analyze signals as they research the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth networks and devices at the Air Force Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

At the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Center for Cyberspace Research at Wright-Patt, about 700 graduates a year are deployed to these virtual battle lines.

The military is looking for cyber warriors. To find out what it takes to become one the Dayton Daily News asked the question to Lt. Col. Mark Reith, AFIT’s CCR director.

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Every airmen is a cyber warrior “in some fashion,” he said in an email, because they must safeguard warfighting capabilities through “good cyber hygiene,” such as protecting passwords.

To join the ranks of cyber warriors, it helps to have an “aptitude and passion for technology,” but more important is an education in science, technology, engineering and math, he said.

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“Creativity and curiosity can also help since many exploits are the result of looking past the intended purpose of technology,” Reith added.

Another is an old fashioned value:

“Finally, a strong set of ethics is necessary because cyberspace operators study vulnerabilities and exploits, and such knowledge may never be used for personal gain,” he said.

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