PENSACOLA, Fla. -- As the Navy grows, new ratings are formed, whether it comes from a need of merging ratings with similar responsibilities, or a rating that needs a new specific job focus. In the case of the cryptologic technician (networks) (CTN) rating, the latter of the two reasons is why the rating was created 16 years ago, Feb. 6, 2004.
Since 2004, the rating has evolved and grown, with about 1,900 Sailors currently serving as CTNs. Sailors trained as CTNs perform a variety of duties associated with computer network operations across global networks. They use a combination of technical and analytical computer network skill to produce cyber capabilities and non-kinetic effects in support of operational commanders and national intelligence requirements.
“We’re computer network analysts. We deal with vulnerability assessment and try to analyze weak points in a network,” said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Tyler Bleau, an instructor assigned to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station. “We try to figure out where someone might try to take advantage of our security and work at preventing a situation like that from happening.”
Additionally, CTNs perform many different duties, whether at sea, on shore or in a training capacity.
“We’re often seen as the Navy’s cyber security experts. Since cyber security is a very vast field, we have a wide range of operations,” Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class David Mierop, another instructor at IWTC. “We can operate on teams to conduct Offensive Cyber Operations, Defensive Cyber Operations, Incident Response missions, Reverse Engineering, Software Development, etc. My first tour was at the 601st Cyber Protection Team, where I worked on their network team. We would go out to various Department of Defense sites, evaluate their networks, and assist the local defenders to protect their network. Then I became an instructor here on Corry Station, and during my time here, the Joint Cyber Analysis course has continually evolved to meet industry standards.”
Even in the short time the rating has been alive, the CTN rating as a whole is constantly changing for the Navy the nation needs.
“The world of cyber is ever changing, because someone can release a new piece of malware in the wild. This new piece of malware can change the way we defend our networks, analyze data, or even develop exploits,” added Mierop. “The only way for us to combat this challenge is for our forces to learn on their own. Additionally, I have seen teams provide weekly training on new technology, malware, and threats. These types of trainings help to raise the level of knowledge of the team; which in term, creates more effective analysts.”
While the rating is still newer compared to some others, the definition of what a CTN does has become more precise. The need for the rate has stayed relevant as it has matured.
“The rating has gotten a lot more defined in the time I’ve been in,” added Bleau. “We just set up our first set of “C” schools recently for pipeline training, which is exciting because it means we are focusing on getting our CTNs ready to come into the fleet as actual fleet-ready Sailors, not just having them learn when they get out into the fleet. With the fleet moving more towards a being of computer network operations, moving more towards cyber warfare, it’s essential to make sure all of our networks are safe. If an adversary could mess with our supply systems, moving a decimal of an amount of supplies we needed for a mission, it could negatively impact the mission. CTNs are one of the defenses against that.”
New Sailors for the CTN rating provide chances for more change as time goes on. For Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Seaman Deja Goldsberry, a student at IWTC Corry Station, she expects that the things she learns will only be the beginning of a career of changing information.
“I like that we have the chance to do something like hacking networks or keeping our networks from being hacked,” said Goldsberry. “We exist as CTNs to protect our cyber security and I expect that we’ll always be getting ready or trying to stay ahead of what enemies might do to try to exploit us.”
For Sailors in the rating onboard Corry Station, their hope is that the CTN rating continues to develop and prepare their new accession Sailors to be more prepared than the Sailors that came before them.
“I hope the CTN rating is able to continue adding more advanced training pipelines, so we can keep developing our personnel,” continued Mierop. “I also hope we can start providing more training for industry certifications that are relevant to our field, because these trainings would help raise the level of Navy cyber professionals. It would make us more competitive with other nations, and we would be competitive when transitioning from the military to civilian sector.”
With four schoolhouse commands, two detachments, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) is recognized as Naval Education and Training Command’s top learning center for the past three years. Training over 21,000 students every year, CIWT delivers trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.
For news from the Center for Information Warfare Training domain, visit www.navy.mil/local/cid/, www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ciwt/, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.