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Cyber-Combat Ready: Stennis Increases Network
Intrusion Detection, Prevention Capabilities

By MC1 (SW/AW) Chris Fowler
CVN74 Public Affairs

     Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are increasing the ship’s ability to defend against cyber attacks, including intrusions from service members, other governments or groups of hackers seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the ship’s computer network.

     According to a 2001 statement of record by Mr. Lawrence K. Gershwin, of the National Intelligence Office for Science and Technology, to the Joint Economic Committee, Cyber Threat Trends and U.S. Network Security at the Central Intelligence Agency, state sponsored cyber warfare programs are posing a significant threat across the entire spectrum of objectives that might harm U.S. interests. As advanced technologies for computer network operations become more widely available, “U.S. adversaries are continuing to develop operationally significant technical cyber capabilities,” said Gershwin.
     Over the last five years, globalization and an explosion in networking and systems technology proliferation has increased instances hacking, or cracking, attempts of military networks.
     According to Information System’s Technician 1st Class Rick Rivera, Stennis’ Information Assurance Manager, the ship is focusing on detecting and preventing three basic types of cyber threats: physical intrusion, system intrusion and remote intrusion.

U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Corey Oesch
     Physical intrusion requires physical access to a machine, i.e. using a keyboard or taking apart a system. System intrusion is a type of hacking used when the intruder already has a low-privilege user account on the system, and uses the account as a “foot in the door” to attempt to gain additional administrative privileges. Remote intrusion, involves hacking a system remotely across a network.
     “We are currently using an assortment of tools to ensure the integrity of all the information both entering and leaving the network,” said Rivera. “We are constantly updating our security patches, checking for weak passwords (a weak password is the most common access for intrusion) and training Sailors to be aware of social engineering and the proper handling of information.”
     According to Senior Chief Petty Officer Cindi Chambliss, leading chief petty officer for combat systems department’s CS2 division, once an intruder has gained access to a system, may attack your external presence (deface web servers, forward spam through e-mail servers, etc.).
     “An intruder might also attempt to go around the firewall to attack machines on the internal network and launch a “denial of service attack,” which could allow an adversary to attack our systems and degrade our capabilities rather than engage our troops directly,” said Chambliss.
     As an increasing number of our competitors and adversaries explore new options for exerting leverage over the United States, and our allies through the use of an ever-increasing selection of both non-lethal and or lethal attacks. Whatever direction the technology and sophistication of cyberthreats may take, the fact that the Navy is becoming more interconnected, means that our systems and digital networks will increasingly become desirable targets for cyber warfare.

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This page was last updated on August 29, 2006
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