How the Air Force hardens planes against signal leakage (pictures)
At Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, the 24th Air Force makes sure communications on each plane the service flies are safe are safe from eavesdroppers. CNET Road Trip 2014 listened in.
The van and the whale
SAN ANTONIO, Texas--When the president of the United States flies anywhere, it goes without saying that he and his entourage want to be sure that any communications being generated on board Air Force One are safe from prying eyes (or ears).
The same is true of communications aboard any Air Force aircraft, and that's why members of the 24th Air Force, based out of Lackland Air Force Base here, work hard to "harden" every plane the service flies, ensuring all communications are safe from eavesdroppers.
As part of Road Trip 2014, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman traveled to Lackland to see how the Air Force secures its aircraft and their communications from any kind of unintentional leakage.
Working out of a special white RV parked alongside a C-5 -- the Air Force's largest airplane -- technicians demonstrated how they test for leaked signals.
The C-5, manufactured by Lockheed since 1968, has to be "re-glassed," or revamped, after years of service. When that happens, the 24th Air Force has to make sure all its new or reconfigured communications systems are hardened against unintentional leakage.
In the RV, a technician caught an image of the "E," appearing almost ghost-like in a sea of electronic noise. The point was made: the laptop on the plane was not secure enough to be used without stricter security measures.