The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) announced the formation of a Cyber Readiness Team this week as the Navy confronts a problem familiar to civilians – keeping up with ever-changing technology.

“The majority of the stuff causing ships to fail inspections at an alarming rate is the old systems, or legacy capabilities, out there that aren’t secure,” said Rob Wolborsky, who heads the Fleet Readiness Directorate.

Ensign Ruby Berge, assigned to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) shares information on operational security at a San Diego certification class. Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystat, via Navy.mil

Wolborsky joined Capt. John Robey, Capt. Jose Cisneros and Capt. David Wirth, both Navy directors of communications and information systems, during a Thursday panel at the C4ISR Symposium to discuss what tools and training were available to strengthen the fleet’s cyber readiness.

Some of the Navy’s goals, according to a Navy.mil news release from the panel, include:

  • Embedding cyber security into software, systems and programs
  • Giving the cyber readiness team, or CRT, leave to “collaborate to improve daily readiness and help mature tools so that the fleet can keep up with emerging requirements.”

Wirth said cyber security inspections are the key element.

“What we are seeing is our inability to sustain the level of effort required to meet inspection requirements,” Wirth said. ”What the fleet really needs is the ability to sustain a consistent level of readiness. Right now, it’s like building a house and working down to the foundation.”

Wolborsky said the three fundamental goals to achieve are to deliver new ships that are “fully functional” to Navy personnel, updating “all the legacy systems that are out there and at the root of the problem” and ensuring that crews are properly trained.

Other issues, according to the panelists, are the Navy’s bureaucracy and tendency to fall behind the private tech sector in making necessary updates. They argued the CRT can help.

“We need to look at investing money in IT training for our sailors,” Cisneros said. “We don’t have the embedded support we need either. We need to take a look at how we are addressing those problems, too.”

SPAWAR, according to the Navy, “designs, develops and deploys advanced communications and information capabilities.” It is made up of early 10,000 personnel experienced in research, engineering and support services.

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