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CHIPS Articles: NSA Commends Navy Task Force Cyber Awakening

NSA Commends Navy Task Force Cyber Awakening
By Dawn M. Stankus, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs - May 3, 2017
The National Security Agency (NSA) recognized the Navy's Task Force Cyber Awakening (TFCA) for its achievements in the realm of national information systems security and defensive information operations, April 6.

Dr. Thresa Lang, Navy Cybersecurity Division and Director, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Washington Operations, accepted the Frank B. Rowlett award on behalf of the TFCA team during a formal ceremony at NSA in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

“It was an absolute honor to accept the award on behalf of the Navy-wide team whose exceptional efforts and committed hard work continue to improve the Navy's cybersecurity,” said Lang. “I'm grateful for their contributions and know we have the right team to address the Navy's future cybersecurity challenges.”

Each year, Frank B. Rowlett awards are presented to celebrate achievements within the federal government for information assurance (IA) and cyber disciplines. These annual awards are named in honor of the cryptographic pioneer Frank B. Rowlett and serve to recognize both organizational and individual contributions made to the IA and cybersecurity communities.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Acquisition and Development established the year-long TFCA in July 2014. TFCA began a cross-organizational effort comprised of over 100 experts throughout the Navy enterprise. The team implemented critical organizational and resourcing changes which significantly improved Navy cyber readiness.

Led by the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (OPNAV N2N6), TFCA included representatives from the Navy's systems commands (Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and SPAWAR), as well as cyber partners including U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Overseeing the work of TFCA was an executive committee with representatives from the staffs of the Secretary of the Navy, CNO, Fleet Cyber Command, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Fleet forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, as well as the Navy's systems commands.

TFCA helped reallocate over $125 million to urgent cybersecurity needs in fiscal year 2016 and established the Navy’s Cybersecurity Safety Program Office (CYBERSAFE), which oversees the process to identify and protect a subset of critical warfighting systems to preserve mission assurance for afloat, ashore and aloft commanders. TFCA also began changing the Navy’s culture through a robust strategic engagement campaign which increased cybersecurity awareness.

Ken Slaughter served as the chief of staff for TFCA and believes that the impact of the group’s CYBERSAFE initiatives will continue to resonate with commands in and outside the Navy well into the future.

“The impact of Task Force Cyber Awakening spans outside the Department of the Navy, it impacts the entire Department of Defense,” said Slaughter. “This group was established to gain a holistic view of cyber security risk, as well as identify and protect a subset of critical warfighting systems to preserve mission assurance. The team was also structured to design, implement and programmatically execute an overarching cyber resiliency strategy from concept development, to acquisition, to operational employment, to obsolescence. I truly believe we achieved what we set out to do, and more.”

Bryan Lopez, deputy for Enterprise Cyber Security, SPAWAR, stressed the profound impact TFCA has on Navy cybersecurity efforts.

“This recognition is a testament to TFCA’s significant contributions to the overall improvement of Navy and national cyber security,” said Lopez. “SPAWAR is constantly working on ways to secure the cyber environment, so it means a great deal to be recognized as part of the TFCA initiative for the contribution we're making in our efforts to continue to support the modern warfighter at sea and ashore.”

Rear Adm. Christian ‘Boris’ Becker, commander, SPAWAR, noted the award is encouraging for the SPAWAR workforce, especially during a time where cyber and enhanced technology are at the forefront of military and Department of Defense leadership’s minds.

“Since the inception of Task Force Cyber Awareness, the SPAWAR team has provided critical support to the development and execution of the CYBERSAFE program,” said Becker. “The development of cybersecurity technical standards ensures security is ‘baked in’ to systems instead of ‘bolted on’ after fielding. SPAWAR continues to play a lead role in keeping communication networks, systems and data secure.”

In September 2015, the CNO established the Navy Cybersecurity Division on the Navy headquarters staff in Washington, D.C., to continue the transformation of cybersecurity efforts started by TFCA.

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) is the Navy acquisition command which develops, delivers, and sustains advanced information warfare capabilities for warfighters. SPAWAR, along with its system centers, space field activity, and its partnership with three program executive offices provides the hardware and software needed to execute Navy missions. With over 10,000 active-duty military and civilian professionals located around the world and close to the fleet, SPAWAR is at the forefront of research, engineering, and acquisition, keeping forces connected around the globe.

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