Air Force pushing ‘mission-critical’ applications to zero trust

The Air Force is moving quickly to Zero Trust.
Frank Konieczny, Air Force
Frank Konieczny speaks April 25, 2019, at the Security Through Innovation Summit presented by McAfee and produced by FedScoop and CyberScoop. (Scoop News Group)

Realizing that telework will remain a reality for months and years to come, the Air Force is working to push some “mission-critical” applications to a zero-trust environment to improve their cybersecurity, a top Air Force technology official said Tuesday.

The push is centered around a task force set up to examine how the Air Force can move into a zero-trust environment where both known and unknown users are treated with the same amount of cyber skepticism to protect every layer of technology infrastructure. Frank Konieczny, chief technology officer of the Air Force, said during an SNG Live event on zero trust that the move is needed since airmen and Air Force civilians will be working remotely for the indefinite future.

It will be “several years before we all get back to the office, if we ever get back to the office,” Konieczny said during the session.

The task force Konieczny spoke of is examining how many applications can be pushed from a current defense-parameter environment — where security measures focus on keeping adversaries out of network entry points — to a zero-trust environment.


“Critical mission ones are going to be pushed that way pretty quickly,” he said. “There is no other way around this now.”

The entire DOD is moving toward zero trust, with some parts of the military going faster than others. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) said it would release a zero-trust reference architecture early in 2021 as a way to encourage agencies across DOD to rebuild their network for the new model of security.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force launched pilots to study how to move to a zero-trust environment, officials have said at previous public appearances. The department now appears to now be building off that work.

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