Adm. Scott Swift delivers opening remarks during the Fleet Cybersecurity Waterfront Training Symposium. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Tamara Vaughn)

PEARL HARBOR – Cybersecurity leaders from Pacific Fleet commands discussed new cybersecurity practices during the U.S. Pacific Fleet 2017 Fleet Cybersecurity Waterfront Training Symposium held at PACFLT headquarters Feb. 13-16.

“The symposium was an opportunity to drill down on an increasingly important challenge,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Like damage control or safety, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, but it starts with leadership. Discussions like this are a great starting point, and I encourage participants to take advantage of this opportunity to compare notes and look at ways to manage risks while also ensuring their Sailors know the basics.”

According to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) website, cybersecurity involves a range of situations, capabilities, and threats. Attacks such as viruses and worms, malware and trojans have grown in sophistication over the recent years. These types of challenges can affect many aspects of daily life – transportation, essential utilities, finances, and communications just to name a few.

“Our cyber warriors are dealing with a constant barrage of attacks and their ability to adapt successfully depends on getting the basics right on the deckplates,” said Swift. “There were 30 million known malicious intrusion attempts on DoD networks in fiscal year 2015 alone. The threat is real, and we’re all flying, sailing and operating in the same networked battlespace. What seems like a simple spillage, malware download, or spear phishing attack can have significant operational impacts.”

“Cyber defense is only as good as how well-trained the personnel are that run the programs,” said symposium participant Randy Rose, deputy N2 Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command, Suffolk, Virginia. “In short, you can have all the pieces in place from a warfighting perspective and have a greater impact than investing millions in new equipment with something as simple as education, shared knowledge and experience.”

With more than 130,000 active duty personnel, 200 ships with over 20 percent of them deployed across the world at any given time, PACFLT’s ability to operate in cyberspace securely and confidently is critical to mission accomplishment.

“Speed is paramount. We’ve got to be able to respond,” said Lt. Cmdr. Reshonda McKee, symposium coordinator. “The whole DoD struggles with this. We all recognize that cyber is a different domain that moves at a rapid pace, and we have to adapt and re-adapt to new threats every day. We can’t defend against these new threats unless we prepare and train. That is what we are doing here. Everyone comes to events like this to share knowledge and experiences. To be ever ready when duty calls.”

“We must remember that we are in a battlespace at all times. Cyber is a wartime environment. We need to be more thoughtful about how we identify and manage cyber risks. This is not a spectator’s sport. The best defense is a good offense,” said Swift.

In the age of rapid technological growth and expanding cyber connectivity, optimizing training opportunities like this maximizes combat effectiveness and efficiency in information security, which is a major consideration in the minds of senior leadership of every global organization.