West 2020

It's time to operationalize cyber domain knowledge

The military has had a growing awareness of cyber warfare and its implications; now is the time to operationalize that knowledge, said ADM Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, speaking at WEST 2015.

"Over the decades, we've become very comfortable with the land domain, the air domain, space," she said, responding to an audience question. "It's time for us to bring our awareness of this [cyber] domain and what it means for us as operators and integrate it more throughout our workforce."

Click here for all of our coverage of West 2015.

It is not just active duty sailors who must respond to the change, but also Navy reservists and civilians. "In the way this domain has grown, everyone is an operator every day," Howard noted, adding that the Navy is currently reviewing cyber warfare policies.

Taking a swing at the same question, ADM Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the Coast Guard, noted that 90 percent of U.S. commerce flows by sea, and that 95 percent of activity in the ports is fully automated, which is a vulnerable point.

The Coast Guard regulates those port facilities under the Maritime Transportation Act of 2002, but said Zukunft, "industry wasn't happy that they needed fences, they needed credentials, close circuits TVs, safeguards, barriers" – that is, until the Sony hack.

Afterwards, industry woke up and turned to the Navy for guidance on better cyber protection, he said. "So we need to come up with these universal standards," he noted, adding that protecting the first line actors isn't enough because "It could be a subcontractor upstream that can remotely shut down that facility."

He aims to roll out this cyber strategy in March.

Speaking for his service, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Marine Corps commandant, said that cyber warfare presented threats and opportunities, and he wanted to see the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to come up with offensive cyber capabilities over the next several months,

As for new C4I technologies, Howard talked about artificial intelligence being applied to Big Data analysis, while Zukunft want laser radar technology to penetrate triple-canpoy jungle to fight drug growers and technologies that help spot illegal crossings

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