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Navy to launch new cyber strategy

The Navy's cyber component will soon release a new cyber strategy that centers on five key goals for modernizing the service's cyber operations, according to a top Navy official.

The most significant of the five goals involves operating the Navy network as a warfighting platform, which requires "assured command and control across all networks, ashore and afloat environment [and] different technical environments," said Kevin Cooley, executive director and command information officer for Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet.

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"That's a pretty interesting problem and we're excited," Cooley said April 7 at the C4ISR & Networks Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Transforming the network into a warfighting platform involves a number of aspects, Cooley said, including reducing the attack surface through measures such as assuring compliance and defending against a range of threats. It also means striking a balance in IT investments, weighing cost savings against defense in depth, as well as influencing the programming, budgeting and acquisition processes.

The second goal involves conducting tailored signals intelligence (SIGINT), particularly the concept of distributed signals intelligence.

"We're heavily reliant on network communications" to effectively conduct SIGINT, Cooley said. For example, the network would be critical in using a specialized translator for Africa operations without actually flying the translator to Africa, he noted.

The third goal is conducting offensive operations in cyberspace – a subject that defense officials traditionally have avoided discussing much.

"You don't win a knife fight without swinging a knife," Cooley said. "We're spending time making sure we're ready to execute should those options be considered appropriate by national command authority to do that. This is a warfare domain, so just like in other warfare domains we have the capability to be tactically offensive and tactically defensive [and] strategically offensive and strategically defensive…being open about that capability is an important part of transparency that we acknowledge in any other form of warfare."

The fourth goal involves expanding cyber situational awareness, a function that Cooley said could fall under operating the network as a warfighting platform, but is significant enough to break out on its own.

"Industry plays a large part in those capabilities that are relevant, whether it's analytics and visualization necessary for achieving shared awareness…or [providing] experience and systems and data strategies necessary for effective implementation of awareness across the services and joint systems," he said.

The final part of the strategy focuses on the launch of Navy cyber forces, 40 teams of which are under development – but are still in need of certain tools as well as agility, including organizational agility, Cooley said.

"Those are the folks that are going to go out and do the missions in this warfare domain," he said.

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