The Potomac Officers Club hosted the 2019 Cybersecurity Summit on Wednesday to join GovCon leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss new cyber programs, initiatives technologies and ways that both sectors can better collaborate to achieve common goals.
Following an enlightening keynote address from David Luber, executive director of the United States Cyber Command, an expert panel made of representatives from the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy took the stage to address cyber resiliency, which is the science of creating plans, program, technologies, designs and protocols to address threats and maintain mission assurance and enterprise resilience.
During the panel discussion, Lt. Col. David Canady, deputy division chief for Operations, Directorate of Cyberspace and Information Dominance, described cyberspace as the virtual oxygen that fuels AF ability to carry out its mission. He explained that the Air Force hasn’t made any major strategic shifts, but it’s given the service the opportunity to restructure itself.
“We recognize that’s always a gap between what was relevant and what was the best practice at the time, said Lt. Col. Canady. “Chasing our vulnerabilities isn’t necessarily the best approach in that we’re building the best seats to compliment that and look into tactics, procedures and take a more integrated approach moving forward.”
In addition, Captain Donovan Oubré explained that the Navy’s utmost importance is to maintain its networks and be capable of reconstituting them as needed. During his remarks, Capt. Oubré was adamant about toughness being the key. “We need to be able to take a punch and adapt accordingly,” he said. “Take the hit and keep on going. We’re never out of the fight.”
Capt. Oubré also stressed that we learn the most by studying ourselves. He mentioned Operation Blackbeard as an example where the Navy committed a cyber attack against itself to find the vulnerabilities that needed to be addressed. At the time, the Navy’s ships weren’t designed to fight against cyber. Capt. Oubré described the entire exercise as a massive learning experience.
Col. Todd Sabala warned the audience that the current state of technology is that you can only surprise an adversary with a tool once before they can adapt to what you have. Col. Sabala was insistent during the panel that we’re moving away from kinetic military action and we’re now moving into information warfare. He thinks it’s crucial to put ourselves in our adversaries’ seat.
Col. Sabala also addressed some challenges facing the Army implementing cyber capabilities for the service. For instance, many of the weapons still in use were designed in the 1980’s and cyber wasn’t a threat at that time. Sabala argued that we need to set up the process of information up the chain of command in order to effectively compete against our adversaries long-term.