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Mission Defense Team tightens F-16 cyber-armor

Members of the 20th Communications Squadron mission defense team stand in front of their squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 10, 2018.

Members of the 20th Communications Squadron mission defense team stand in front of their squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 10, 2018. The mission defense team began working at Shaw AFB in October 2017, and exists to strengthen cyber-defenses on 20th Fighter Wing’s F-16CM Fighting Falcons.

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE. S.C. -- SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – Far from the F-16CM Fighting Falcons roaring down the Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, runway, Airmen ensure the signature Team Shaw aircrafts’ cyber-shield is always on guard.

The 20th Communications Squadron mission defense team is a relatively new unit at Shaw that maintains the unseen defenses on the F-16.

Team Shaw’s adversaries may attempt to hack into the jets, making them unable to perform their mission. The team tests the aircraft’s defenses and ensures that the cyber-attacks are rebuffed.

“The team is focused on identifying enemy targets and hardening against cyber vulnerabilities,” said Tech. Sgt. Consuelo Accettola, 20th CS mission defense team supervisor. “We conduct functional mission analysis and mission thread analysis to identify key cyberspace terrain and assess cybersecurity risks.”

Shaw began its mission defense team in October 2017, said Accettola.

“We were doing cyber-analysis as a squadron, but we wanted a team for mission critical assets,” said Senior Airman Mark Bynog, 20th CS mission defense technician. “We look at the F-16 as a whole and get down to each individual part in the scope of cyber-defense.”

The Shaw mission defense team is committed to keeping 20th Fighter Wing aircraft secure and ensuring jet systems are resistant to electronic attacks.