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SPECIAL REPORT: Cyber warriors can stop cars, shut off water and unlock jail cells

AFIT at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base graduates 700 cyber warriors a year.

Air Force Capt. Eddie Caberto taps a key board and a speedometer flashes beyond 100 mph before redlining.

For the student at the Air Force Institute of Technology the demonstration via a laptop computer and a mock-up of a speedometer demonstrates what could happen if a hacker found their way inside your car or truck through a vehicle’s entertainment system.

“I would launch an attack from here, basically removing all control,” said Caberento, 28, of Kaui, Hawaii. “I’ll send you into the wall, turn on your brakes at all the wrong times so you have zero control.”

The Air Force Institute of Technology educates cyber warriors like Caberento at the school’s Center for Cyberspace Research, graduating about 700 every year to build an army of cyber troops.

The Pentagon has about 5,000 cyber troops with a targeted goal of nearly 1,200 more by the end of 2018 to handle the daily onslaught of hundreds of millions of attacks every day.

At AFIT, graduate students learn “foundational cyber knowledge and critical thinking skills” needed to adapt to cyber threats, according to Lt. Col. Mark Reith, director of the Center for Cyberspace Research director.

The Defense Department is enlisting more troops at every level.

Including in Ohio.

RELATED: Cyber war: Defense firms face battle to guard secrets

The Ohio National Guard was one of three National Guard organizations the federal government chose two years ago for a nearly 40-member cyber protection team charged with defending the infrastructure of the Department of Defense. Troops in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan make up the team.

“What I do know is there’s a serious threat and all aspects of (the Department of Defense) have been subject to attacks and it’s required our cyber mission forces to come in and help mitigate those vulnerabilities,” said Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard.

At the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex cyber range in Indiana, cyber warriors can shut down water treatment operations and unlock electronic jail door cells.

“You can actually turn on and off and divert pumps in a real system versus simulate,” Carr said. “That’s the value of this environment. It’s a real living breathing city that we now have as a (training) environment.”

AFIT students cyber research delves into real world technologies the U.S. military can use, officials said.

RELATED: Special report on war on cyber terror

Graduate student Capt. Jose Gutierrez del Arroyo, 27, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has researched protecting the security of Blue Tooth low energy wireless devices from cyber hacking, an application that could find uses in laptops, computer tablets and electronic devices.

“It’s really a cornerstone piece of a future defensive tool so this really paves the way for the future,” he said.

Cyber warriors learn from past attacks, said Jeff Hughes, president and co-founder of Tenet3 in Riverside and a former AFRL cyber expert.

“Every year they get better and become more aware of how to deal with the problem,” he said.

RELATED: Need a job? U.S. military looking for cyber warriors

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