8 December 2014

Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet: US Navy’s SIGINT and Cyber Warriors

Richard R. Burgess
December 6, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s cyber warriors not only react to intrusions on the service’s networks, but also have teams that pro-actively hunt for intruders hiding in cyberspace.

Speaking to an audience Dec. 2 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, VADM Jan Tighe, commander of Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. Tenth Fleet, said that in addition to its “layered defense in depth,” Fleet Cyber Command has “people [who] go hunt … [who] look for bad actors in new and different ways.

“We have sensors and countermeasures to … detect movement inside our network. We do surveillance inside our networks,” Tighe said.

“The threat in cyberspace is evolving almost on a daily basis,” she said. Because of the “low cost of entry” of cyber attack it is “hard to determine intent of malicious actors” and the command has to treat any intrusion as dangerous.

The threats include national governments, criminals, “hacktivists” and hackers seeking to disrupt, she said.

Fleet Cyber Command is the Navy’s component of U.S. Cyber Command and a component of U.S. Strategic Command. With about 1,850 cyber warriors, it conducts operations for combatant commanders and the National Security Agency.

Cyber warfare “is definitely a team sport,” Tighe said, speaking of the coordination and lesson-sharing with the cyber forces of the other armed forces and with the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Fleet Cyber Command is part of the Information Dominance Corps of the Navy and part of a larger effort that began five years ago to take a holistic approach to electronic warfare, intelligence, cyber warfare, meteorology and oceanography.

Tighe said the command’s first responsibility is to ensure that the Navy’s networks can “operate as a warfighting platform … available and secure.”

The command also provides signals intelligence to supported commands, delivers effects in support of warfighting objectives, and provides situational awareness.

Tighe said that delays in the modernization of the Navy’s networks make them harder to defend. She also expressed concern that loss of information from the defense industry’s networks can reduce the warfighting advantage of the United States.

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