Lately, I’ve been deep at work in the area of cyberspace situational awareness (CSA) and have been razor focused on modeling cyberspace that will eventually be “flyable” using virtual reality headsets and graph processing to make sense of “big data” cyber objects – fusing game engines with VR and with “real” cyberspace. This is a future goal and we are not there yet, but we are getting closer.
My experience as an engineer and cyber warrior at Langley AFB nearly 20 years ago helped all of our team realize that the future of warfare was cyber. We talked about this day and night. Dr. and Major General (Retired) Dale Meyerrose and I used to discuss this over delicious Italian food in Arlington, VA. We talked about “the fifth dimension of warfare,” cyberspace; and we discussed and visualized models, new paradigms, the future of USAF and a coming “cyber command”, and the future cyber battle space. We discussed this with passion and zeal because of our team experience at Langley during and after the Langley Cyber Attack (LCA).
From all of those discussions and visions, which were revolutionary and unheard of that time (twenty years ago), we have seen not one, but all of our “visions” come to pass. It was during that time I began looking for a “future solution” to cyber defense and all of this lead me to applying the JDL and the art of science of multli-sensor data fusion to cyberspace. This was the time period when I first coined the phrase “cyberspace situational awareness’ and it is well documented in the scholarly literature that my 1999 and 2000 published papers on this topic caused a revolution in modern computer security and cyber research. Those were critical, defining times back then!
Today there are divisions of corporations and governments dedicated to “cyber situational awareness”, a concept born out of the lessons we learned during the Langley Cyber Attack. All of this was born out of the primordial soup of our USAF team discussions, especially discussions with Dale Meyerrose and others cyber warriors. We were the definition of “team” and we were a very good one. We were far ahead of the times as PhD student and collaborator Rich Zuech kindly pointed out to me a few days ago.
The USAF history books on the “Langley Cyber Attack” are accurate; but the history books are missing key important topics which we discussed as a team and how events back then effected each of us in different ways. I recall great discussions with our team, as we were the first, to my knowledge, to discuss “the fifth dimension of warfare” because we were among the first pioneers to actually fight and defend against a real-time cyberattack against the US military – 20 years ago (1997 – 2017).
Recently, I have been coding up to 12 hours a day, working on modeling and the proof of new concepts for what I call “cyberspace situation graphs” and “event-driven graph building” and “graph-driven situation analysis” to name a few buzzwords out of my “buzzword factory” recently. In my view, enriched (network topology) graphs are the key the future of visualizing cyberspace. I am working on futuristic methods to “fly” (work and travel in cyber space and time). It’s all very exciting!
All of this interest and research today is based on my experience with the USAF and in particular what happened to me and our team by the good fortunes of our collaboration “way back when” at Langley AFB. We were a very good team and did very good, ground breaking work.
Personally, I cannot thank the USAF, Lieutenant General William Donahue (Retired) and Dale Meyerrose enough for including me in the USAF team “way back when”. Today, the technology is starting to catch up with the visions of CSA we created “way back then”. Soon we will begin to use VR and AR to fly in space and time in cyberspace. We will fly in that space to maintain and obtain situational knowledge; we will fly into that space to defend our great nation; and we will fly in that space to do harm to those who would attempt to harm our great country and peoples.
This area of research and development is so important I’m working on this every day, often night and day, currently self-funded. I do this good work because of my experience over many decades I continue to believe I am uniquely qualified to envision the future and what must be done to defend cyberspace. It took many years for the idea of “cyberspace situational awareness” born out of experiences at Langley AFB and published nearly 17 years ago, to become mainstream. There is little doubt in my mind that my concepts and models for building graphs to represent cyberspace and cyberspace situations, and my concepts for traveling in that cyberspace, in both space and time, are spot on. Real-time cyber time travel is more challenging than historical cyber time travel. I have real concepts and models for traveling in space and time in historical cyberspace and I’m working on these models now.
When people ask me “What were the lesson learned and the results of my cyber warfighter experiences at Langley AFB born out of the Langley Cyber Attack?“, I tend to reply, “The significance of our team work during the Langley Cyber Attack certainly is not yet represented completely in the USAF history books. It’s hard for people to understand the significance of cyber situational awareness and to let go of the physical world and think in terms of cyber.”
And that’s OK…. the future is exciting!