Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) executive director, Pat Sullivan, participated in a cyber infrastructure panel during the Cyber Center of Excellence’s (CCOE) first-ever Secure San Diego event, Oct. 19.
Secure San Diego was designed to showcase Southern California’s region-wide efforts between local military commands, industry and the City of San Diego to foster a more secure cyber environment. The event consisted of insightful speakers, engaging panel discussions and a simulated network hack demonstration.
Retired Rear Adm. Ken Slaght, CCOE co-chair and president, explained that Secure San Diego was created to provide a necessary forum for key personnel in Southern California to come together to engage regarding the topic of cybersecurity.
“October is cybersecurity awareness month,” said Slaght. “Because of this, CCOE wanted to initiate valuable conversations about cyber. What it is cyber? What constitutes a cyber-attack? Who is responsible if there is an attack? These are questions CCOE believes people need to start thinking about. San Diego has the potential to lead the way and serve as a global hub of cybersecurity innovation.”
The cyber infrastructure panel consisted of critical leaders in San Diego who support a variety of infrastructure development, crisis response and overall security. The panel provided an opportunity to discuss cyber scenarios on a regional and global scale.
Joining Sullivan on the panel was Col. Ian Clark, commanding officer, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton; Capt. Mark Edelson, commanding officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest; Dan Constantineau, information systems manager, San Diego Country Water Authority; Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance, San Diego County Water Authority; Robert Renzulli, acting chief information security officer (CISO), Port of San Diego; and John Thomes, CISO, San Diego Regional Airport Authority. The moderator of the panel was Darren Bennett, City of San Diego CISO.
Topics on the panel ranged from predicting network vulnerabilities, employee training, cyber hygiene, preparedness and effective crisis response procedures.
“We need to get ‘back to the basics’ when it comes to cybersecurity,” said Sullivan. “In the majority of present cyber-attack cases, breaches happen because of known vulnerabilities. Organizations must understand their systems, identify critical information and keep networks updated. It could be a month, six months or even a year until an organization realizes that their networks have been penetrated by an attacker. Organizations need to understand if they have been hacked within a much shorter timeframe and they need to have a response plan in place to minimize impact and to restore operations.”
Sullivan and fellow panelists continued to stress the importance of cybersecurity collaboration within the City of San Diego and how Secure San Diego collectively highlighted regional efforts.
“There is still much work to do,” said Sullivan. “SPAWAR constantly reviews lessons learned in order to determine how we as a Department of Navy command can successfully support cyber incidents. Our cyber response teams train and prepare similar to any other emergency response teams. The threat is real and we are doing the work now to mitigate vulnerabilities and prepare for a cyber incident response. By working with our partners here in San Diego, we only can become stronger and more resilient in the realm of cybersecurity.”
SPAWAR is the Navy acquisition command that 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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