West 2020

For the Navy, cyber defense has effects well beyond cyberspace

The No. 1 mission of Cyber Command is defense. This is often touted by its commander, Adm. Michael Rogers, along with the chiefs of the service cyber components.

From the Navy's perspective, defensive cyber is most important – more so than offensive cyber – to enable commanders at all levels and in all domains to trust the data and the command and control architectures at their disposal.

Taking and running with the baton from his predecessor, Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, who last year identified five goals for Fleet Cyber Command's strategic plan, Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, commander of the 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber, said the first two components of that mission involve assured command and control and giving tactical operators the assurance that the data they're looking at is trustworthy whether they are in front of a computer screen or in the cockpit of a Super Hornet.

If you're in the cockpit, Gilday said Feb. 21 during an address at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego, California, you have to be assured the track you're going to shoot at is the track you want to shoot at. This same notion goes for a fleet commander; they need to ensure the guidance they are putting out to the force has not been tampered with.

For the fleet commander, if they can't command and control the forces underneath them, they're effectively useless. They exist to command and control their forces, serving as the pinnacle for network defense by maintaining the one priority more important than offensive cyber, he said.

If the commanders can't control forces, conduct integrated fires or effectively issue orders, they can't fight, he said.

Cyber protection teams perform this defensive mission. The Navy maintains 20 cyber protection teams, Gilday said with 13 going to Cyber Command for the joint fight and seven performing strictly Navy missions. These service-focused CPTs are aligned regionally and focused in Navy Information Operations Centers, or NIOCs, to provide mission assurance for a number of numbered fleet commanders.

They help those fleet commanders determine their mission priorities, what communications nodes they need to conduct those missions and then what units need to be connected primary, secondary and tertiary means in order to carry out the missions that fleet commander has prioritized, he said.

Gilday also highlighted advancements made in network defense separate from CPTs, noting that there have been significant investments in network defenses at the perimeter, at the core and at the end user after the Iranian intrusion a few years ago, which led to a massive clean up effort and eventually a permanent office focused on cybersecurity.

The improvements made, particularly in defensive and in sensing, detection and taking action, will be completed through 2018, Gilday said.

Additionally, Gilday noted that all 40 of the Navy's cyber mission force teams, which feed into the 133 at Cyber Command and include offensive and defensive teams, will reach full operational capability by this summer, a full year earlier than the 2018 date required by Cyber Command. Twenty-six are FOC currently, he said.

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