Posted: April 10, 2018 1:49 PM

Director of Naval Intelligence: Cyber Challenges Will Continue to Go

By NICK ADDE, Seapower Special Correspondent

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — As Vice Adm. Jan Tighe was introducing the panelists who would discuss cyber operations, she noted that the technology involved is the fastest growing of any kind in the history of humanity.

The military’s ability to keep up with it through the acquisition and testing process, Tighe noted, is significantly less robust.

Thusly, Tighe — the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence — set the stage for the discussion at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition that ensued.

Bridging that significant gap between adversaries’ potential ability to cause trouble and placing solutions to such a problem is the key focus of their mission, Tighe and her fellow panelists agreed.

Citing a recent white paper put out by the office of the Director of National Intelligence that placed cybersecurity atop the list of global threats, Tighe said, “The cyber challenges out there are real and continue to grow.”

Conversely, she said, the ability to predict adversaries’ intentions is growing more difficult. Cyberattacks can take place anywhere and anytime. 

“The homeland is no longer a sanctuary,” Tighe said.

Rear Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, the chief of U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command and assistant commandant for command, control, communications, computers and information technology, described his service’s unique role in that it must support both military and Department of Homeland Security missions simultaneously.

“We are part of the DoD [Department of Defense] information network,” Lunday said.

“[We also] have to protect the maritime critical infrastructure,” he said, which “connects the U.S. economy to the $4 trillion [annual] supply chain.”

Modernizing the cyber network’s systems is just as important as bringing a new cutter to the fleet, Lunday said.

Maj. Gen. Loretta E. Reynolds described how, when she took over as commander of Marine Forces Cyber Command in 2015, progress was measured by how quickly they could build teams.

“Now, we’re advancing the ball every day. It’s about flattening, hardening and understanding the network,” Reynolds said.

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, pointed out that while it took 70 years for half the nation’s houses to have telephones, it took only 10 years for cell phones. The web-based movie provider Netflix, he said, can develop and deploy a new product in 16 minutes.

“How often do we update our networks?” he asked rhetorically,
saying that it is not done nearly as quickly as it should.

“We don’t control the speed of a threat. We can sit back and watch how it’s outpacing our ability to match it,” Becker said.

To match the threat, Becker said, “We are building an information warfare platform that will allow us to move at the speed we need.”

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