Navy CIO says cybersecurity is an urgent national issue

Globalization, training and education defining modern IT security

Navy Chief Information Officer Robert Carey said today that with mission success and a presidential mandate, cybersecurity must evolve as rapidly as technology itself to confront “the most serious economic and security challenge of the 21st century.”

“We are being exploited at unprecedented scale by a growing array of state and non-state actors,” Carey said in today’s Virtual FOSE keynote presentation.“The U.S. must take action, protecting the critical infrastructure upon which our economy and security is based, from potential exploitation, disruption or destruction.” The presentation on demand was sponsored by 1105 Media, the parent company of Federal Computer Week.

Connectivity is crucial to stability and security, enabling the Navy and other organizations to “operate the network as a command and control system, as a tool,” Carey said. To continue successful operations, a new model is necessary for secure data-sharing in a collaborative environment, he said, adding, “We need to transition from the old, insufficient security posture…to a ‘new normal.’”

A major factor in the new model of information security is modern globalization, according to Carey. “Globalization has forced us to look at the information technology supply chain very differently,” said Carey, who added that the inability to monitor the entire supply chain and production of information and technology “presents a major conundrum.”

Investment in cybersecurity will be necessary to fortify data-sharing needs in the U.S. government and military, but further understanding will be necessary to properly address such concerns, Carey said. “There’s no total understanding of cause and effect [in cybersecurity]. With more understanding, we can better determine where to put our scarce resources to get the most bang for the buck.”

Though the phenomenon of social networking certainly lends itself to easy communication and collaboration, “it doesn’t adhere to the current [Defense Department (DOD)] paradigm of security,” Carey said. He stressed the importance of education and training, with those two ideas “at the top of the list” in ways to mitigate network vulnerabilities.

With thousands of DOD employees working on computers, education and training will be just as important as network security in the fight to keep data safe. “[Users] have to understand that if they do something wrong, it can become a major vulnerability,” Carey said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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