Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Windows 10 to Deploy Across the Air Force

By Air Force Space Command Staff 

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Air Force will upgrade to Windows 10 by January 31, 2018. The upgrade will improve the Air Force’s cybersecurity posture, lower the cost of information technology and streamline the IT operating environment.

Windows 10 provides improved security features to mitigate cyber threats and provides a common baseline for Air Force cyber operators to manage, thereby reducing costs.

The Air Force is taking this action because the Department of Defense directed the transition to a Microsoft Windows 10 secure host baseline across the DOD.

Windows 10 will become the standard operating system for Microsoft Windows clients across the Air Force Network. Other types of clients, such as iPads and other devices that use non-Windows operating systems, are not within the scope of this effort.

As a result of the DOD’s mandate, a significant portion of the Air Force client inventory will need to be replaced.

Migration will begin in late 2016 as part of each base’s computer technology refresh efforts. Units are authorized to upgrade existing devices or purchase new tablets and laptops through AFWay, and should refrain from purchasing desktops unless their mission dictates otherwise. In many cases, users will receive replacement mobile computers with Windows 10 pre-loaded, while remaining users will have their existing computers upgraded to the new operating system. Affected users will be informed on how to back up and restore their data.

Systems that currently run Windows 10 will still need to be upgraded to the Standard Desktop Configuration to leverage cyber security improvements. The Standard Desktop Configuration provides a single standard, enterprise-wide managed environment across the Air Force Network.

New security features in Windows 10 will allow the Air Force and DOD install software patches faster and counter a major cyber-intrusion technique called “pass the hash.” Using this technique, attackers may access remote servers by using a stored hash, or a one-way transformation, of a user’s password rather than the standard plain-text password. The new operating system also will increase accountability and transparency across DOD networks, allowing cyber defenders to better detect malicious activity.

Scheduled completion date for all Air Force Network (NIPR and SIPR) users is January 31, 2018.

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