Navy Looks to Enlist Industry in All-Hands Cybersecurity Mission

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — If the U.S. Navy hopes to thwart cyber attackers, the sea service will need industry’s help. Capt. Ann Casey intends to garner as much of this outside help as possible.

“We want the ability to do a more advanced hunt,” Casey said May 6 during an interview at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference.

As director of information and capability at the Fort Meade, Maryland-based Fleet Cyber Command, Casey intends to find experts attending the show that would help “look inside our own networks at a more advanced level than we currently do.”

Industry hopefully can provide assistance in fostering advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Casey said.

The processes involve “getting a machine to do some computations that can assist users,” Casey said. “Our sensors get a large amount of data. We want machines to parse that data and tell us what’s important.”

“We want the ability to do a more advanced hunt.”

Capt. Ann Casey
director of information and capability, Fleet Cyber Command

Casey’s role is an integral part of a U.S. Defense Department-wide effort, spearheaded by the newly created Joint Artificial Information Center. The effort entails seeking protections for all the Navy’s cyberspace operations, including communications systems. The process involves a bit more than merely stopping hackers, she said.

“If you’re using McAfee or Symantec [on a personal computer], you don’t care who’s hacking you — you just want it to stop,” Casey said.

The Navy, on the other hand, cannot take such a simplistic approach.

“We care about tactics, techniques and procedures — in other words, who’s hacking us,” Casey said. “We’re looking for ways in the future to prevent it.”

Casey’s shop also is part of the effort to conduct offensive cyber operations, should it be ordered to do so. “The best dialogue I can have would be if somebody from industry is presenting a new approach, particularly in cybersecurity,” Casey said. “After having a conversation, I would go back and engage our entire community. On an as-needed basis, we could invite the contractor to come back and speak to us — sometimes in a classified arena.”