U.S. Cyber Command
U.S. Cyber Command

AF083-022  TITLE: Visualization for Command and Control of Cyberspace Operations

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Information Systems, Space Platforms, Human Systems

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.

OBJECTIVE: Develop visualization techniques for planning and execution of Cyberspace operations.

DESCRIPTION: Fulfilling the Air Force mission “… to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace” requires effective C2 tools for the observation, planning and execution of cyberspace operations. Conventional battlespace visualization tools were developed for the physical world (i.e., geospatially oriented), where the battlespace, weapons and effects are concrete, often observable entities. Cyberspace and its critical electronic infrastructures are an artificial world that must be created, modified and sustained by the warfighter. This artificial world of cyberspace has concrete links back to the physical world that shape the information landscape, affect the decision-making process, and control the communication channels crucial to C2.

Standard, geospatially oriented C2 tools are not suitable for providing cyber combatants with comparable situation awareness to understand events, evaluate options, and make decisions in the electromagnetic domain. The combatants in the cyber domain needs to be able to quickly see and understand not just the physical relationships of the traditional battlespace, but also the logical relationships and information dependencies in the abstract landscape of cyberspace. Cyber C2 visualizations need to provide information for strategy, tactics and execution of effects that may, or may not, have physical correlates. Examples of these cyber events include network attack detection, attack identification, damage assessment, denial of service (DOS) warnings, and information warfare or cyber-attack operations.

For example, a commander may be planning to intentionally disrupt a portion of his network to investigate a cyber-attack. He will need to understand what ripple effects will occur across the functionally diverse and geographically distributed network. These ripple effects will have both a cyber component (e.g., locations that will lose connectivity or suffer degraded performance characteristics) and a real-world component (e.g., information about enemy forces may be unavailable or delayed, reducing blue force effectiveness) that must be visualized, explored and tasked from within his C2 tools.

Decision makers will greatly benefit from innovative visualization tools that can improve their understanding of all aspects of the Cyber domain. These aspects include 1) the current state of the information environment, the physical and virtual battlespace and enemy and friendly capabilities and vulnerabilities; 2) the scope and scale of courses of action that affect information or information networks; 3) the primary effects and ripple effects of an operation in both the physical and cyber battlespaces, and 4) the risks for collateral damage associated with cyber warfare activities.

PHASE I: Identify cyberspace characteristics relevant to C2 visualization. Identify correlation methods and visualization techniques to understand battlespace, operations, and effects. Define metrics to evaluate efficacy. Document results in a written report, including mockups of proposed visualizations.

PHASE II: Construct a working prototype to demonstrate integrated visualization of cyber data showing 1) the status of information environment, 2) its effect on the conventional battlespace, and 3) the status of information operations. Evaluate effectiveness using metrics defined in Phase I.

PHASE III / DUAL USE: Military application: Additional military applications include command and control environments, like the Air Operations Centers (AOCs). Commercial application: Monitoring and defending infrastructures (e.g., financial and energy) against cyber-attacks. Visualization cyberspace is beneficial for security of commercial communication and information networks.


1. ‘Air Force leaders to discuss new ‘Cyber Command’

2. Laura S. Tinnel, O. Sami Saydjari, and Joshua W. Haines, An Integrated Cyber Panel System, IEEE Computer Society,

3. Anita D’Amico and Stephen Salas, Visualization as an Aid for Assessing the Mission Impact of Information Security Breaches, IEEE 2003.

4. Tim Bass, “Cyberspace Situational Awareness Demands Mimic Traditional Command Requirements,” AFCEA Signal Magazine, February 2000.

KEYWORDS: visualization, cyber, human factors, planning, situation awareness, command and control, HCI

Reference. SITIS Topic Details, Visualization for Command and Control of Cyberspace Operations

See also:  http://www.dodsbir.net/solicitation/sbir083/af083.doc

Also published 17 October 2008 on the ISC2 blog.