SMDC team member receives DoD award
Ashish S. Vazirani, deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, presents William D. Gwaltney, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command cyber engineer, with a Secretary of Defense Disability Award at the 43rd annual awards ceremony Oct. 26 during a ceremony in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. (Photo Credit: Allen Meeks) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON D.C. – One U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command team member was recognized for his accomplishments at the highest level.

William D. Gwaltney, USASMDC cyber engineer, is one of eight Army recipients recognized during the 43rd annual Secretary of Defense Disability Awards ceremony Oct. 26 at a ceremony in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. The award is given to DoD employees with disabilities that make a significant contribution to the DoD mission and demonstrate the core values of the agency or service that they are employed in.

“I was extremely excited when I first learned that I was receiving the award and going to the Pentagon to receive it,” Gwaltney said. “It is a huge honor because it is awarded at the national level. Receiving this means that I have made a significant contribution to the DoD mission and have performed excellent work while being employed at SMDC.”

Gwaltney is assigned to SMDC’s Space Test and Resiliency Simulator, or STARS, project where he works with a team of University of Alabama in Huntsville students to research security and resiliency of small satellites. This project is focused on determining how vulnerabilities in small satellite architectures and networks can be exploited by threat actors and developing mitigations in designs and tactics to combat attacks against these vulnerabilities.

He also helps with small satellite simulation so that the STARS team can simulate a small satellite with resource constrained equipment. Gwaltney also researches and broadens his understanding of cybersecurity and system administration topics and has helped the STARS team to write a demonstration malware that emulates current threats.

“The award reflects very well on my team and on SMDC,” Gwaltney said. “The entire team worked very well and very hard, and this is reflected in the award. The award also reflects the high quality of work done at SMDC and the excellent work ethic of my team. The award shines a very positive light on the work that I have done with my team for SMDC and shows that the performance of this work is excellent and at a very high level.”

Terry Carlson, SMDC’s command chief cyber strategist, said Gwaltney’s work has single-handedly advanced this effort towards its intended goal of finding methods and best practices for defending small satellites and space systems against cyber-attacks. The result of his work will allow critical space assets to continue to execute their mission, despite intrusions from threat actors, benefiting all space focused agencies across the U.S. Government.

He added Gwaltney’s work has been recognized by U.S. Cyber Command and was selected as a candidate for presentation at their annual CyberRECON conference.

“Will diligently applied his expertise in software testing to assess and validate potential vulnerabilities that the STARS team had previously discovered,” Carlson said. “Will’s contributions have served to advance the project past several hurdles in modeling and simulating threats for satellites. He single-handedly developed malware that is tailored for space system environments and targets satellite architectures. Will is currently leading the team as the primary developer of an anti-virus concept for satellites to detect malware and virus activity that often preclude functional system and network issues in traditional environments.”

Carlson said Gwaltney serves as SMDC’s government lead engineer and provides guidance and advice to the interns and helped them grow their knowledge and skills to be better cyber engineers.

“The leadership at SMDC is extremely proud of Will for receiving this award,” Carlson said. “We have been proud of his work and to call him a colleague since he joined the team. We quickly recognized his talents and dedication to the mission when Mr. Gwaltney came on board just over 18 months ago. His dedication and work ethic are admired by his teammates and serve as an inspiration to us all.

“Will accepts all tasks willingly and dives in to get the work done and done the right way which is one of his best work qualities,” he added. “From a team perspective we are thrilled that he is being recognized for his hard work and we see this as well deserved.”