WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard updated its cyber strategic plans, committing to use best practices to thwart threats and weave cyber planning into its traditional mission preparation.

The new cyber strategic outlook is the Coast Guard’s response to rapid changes in the cyber environment in recent years, including an uptick in destabilizing events and evolving security technology and practices.

The outlook document, released Aug. 3, builds on the Coast Guard’s 2015 strategy that established cyberspace a new operational domain for the service.

“Today’s cyberspace is markedly more complex than ever before, posing novel threats to our national security and economic strength and stability,” the outlook stated. “Since the publication of the 2015 Coast Guard Cyber Strategy, we have seen the emergence of a contested global cyberspace influenced by the convergence and acceleration of technology and the return to Great Power Competition. Attacks on the confidentiality and availability of information have been commoditized, significantly lowering barriers to entry. Attacks on information integrity have been used to undermine public trust in institutions and sow discord.”

The Coast Guard said it will make its defensive abilities known in cyberspace to help secure the maritime transportation system, a vast commerce network comprised of over 25,000 miles of water serving 361 ports. Malicious actors have sought to disrupt commerce through cyberspace, leading to billions in losses in recent years.

“The Coast Guard is taking important and necessary steps to increase safety and security where physical and cyber threats converge,” Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, said in a press release.

The document notes that the Coast Guard, which has unique authorities as a law enforcement entity as well as an armed service, cannot meet its strategic objectives or missions without a robust cyber capability.

Coast Guard efforts in three areas for cyber threats:

  1. Defend the Coast Guard portion of the Department of Defense Information Network.
  2. Protect the maritime transportation system: Captains of the port will lead efforts to use best practices to identify and react to cyber risks, developing unified response plans. Coast Guard intelligence will provide awareness of cyber actors and capabilities, while deployable cyber forces will help commanders responds to threats.
  3. Project cyber capabilities alongside traditional Coast Guard capabilities and embed cyber planning in traditional missions.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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