WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is working hard to improve the cyber security of its computer networks and weapon and communications systems, while bracing for potential attacks on power grids and fuel supplies, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Wednesday.
Mabus said cyber warfare was a clear threat given Russia’s use of cyber attacks before its physical invasions of Crimea and Georgia.
“We’ve got to pay a whole lot of attention to this,” Mabus said at an event sponsored by Defense One media group. “Cyber is in everything now. It’s not just weapons systems. It’s in every system because we are so networked.”
Mabus confirmed recent media reports that the Navy was looking at replacing IBM servers used for its Aegis combat system after International Business Machines Corp’s $2.1 billion sale of its server division to China’s Lenovo Group Ltd last year.
“If there’s a danger or potential danger with a platform, you’ve got to take a look at that,” he said.
U.S. military officials have become increasingly vocal about cyber espionage and attacks launched by China, Russia and other potential enemies. A Pentagon report last month said hackers associated with the Chinese government repeatedly targeted U.S. military networks last year seeking intelligence, but those tools could be used for offensive operations as well.
Mabus said the Navy was including more cyber threats in its war games and developing alternative energy sources and microgrids to ensure continued military operations in the event of an attack.
Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, commander of the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet, this month released a five-year strategic plan for dealing with cyber threats.
The Navy also launched a “CYBERSAFE” program aimed at ensuring the security of a small set of components and processes whose failure would harm critical capabilities, equipment and people.
Vice Admiral Ted Branch, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance, said in a memo the program would be fully operational sometime next year.
The CYBERSPACE program office is due to brief Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert next month about its work, to mirror similar “SUBSAFE” efforts to ensure safety on nuclear-powered submarines, a Navy spokesman said.
The effort will focus on ship safety, ship combat systems, networked combat and logistics systems.
Much like the submarine security system, it will rely on common standards set by an independent technical authority, acquisition standards, assessment by an independent security authority, and ultimately certification by a separate body.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb and Richard Chang