The United States Naval Academy (USNA) hosted the third annual Joint Service Academy Cyber (JSAC) Security Summit March 23-24.
The annual JSAC Summit aims to strengthen the ties between industry and government organizations, better secure the internet, share best practices and foster stakeholder partnerships to defend and defeat threats facing the nation. Hosted by one of the military service academies, the summit gives future junior officers the opportunity to interact with influential and experienced members of the cyber community.
“By using the service academies as the platform for this annual event, we try to generate discussion amongst entry level officers and leaders who could then network, meet and discuss with experts in the field,” said Paul J. Tortora, director of the Center for Cyber Security Studies. “Policy, academic, military, industry, government, international and domestic are all topics. We are able to talk about how we are educating our future leaders, but also give a leadership perspective on how cybersecurity is used in the fleet, other services, industry and academia. We bring in premier experts who can talk about cyber from all aspects and all angles.”
The summit bought together more than 200 leading information security space representatives from various backgrounds, including all four military service academies, the Defense Department, civilian industry and academia.
The opening keynote provided by Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter Jr., USNA superintendent, stressed the significance of cyber education, cyber awareness, and how all warfighters need to be aware of how the cyber domain transcends all of the other traditional domains of air, sea, land, and space.
“A few years ago when I was president of the Naval War College, when then-CNO Admiral Jonathan Greenert, asked me to write about the future of warfare, I didn’t write about the efficacy of our fighter jets or our carriers,” said Carter, holding up his smartphone. “This phone has two to three times the computing power I had in the F-14 in the 1990s. I wrote about cyber operations and the electromagnetic spectrum. By 2020, we’ll have over 100 billion devices connected around the world through the internet of things. Our midshipmen come in as users of the internet, but they may not understand the vulnerabilities. I think the launch of our cyber major is one of the watershed events of all of our major programs.”
The opening panel of the event brought together four former directors of the National Security Agency, an unprecedented gathering in an unclassified setting. Retired Adm. William Studeman, retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, retired Air Force Lt. Gen Kenneth Minihan and retired Vice Adm. J. Michael McConnell were on the panel moderated by Distinguished Visiting Professor Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the NSA. Spanning the administrations of President Reagan to President Obama, they each provided perspectives on the foundations of cyberspace and its implications for the future.
“The panel's comments could easily serve as the basis of an entire course in cyberpace history, strategy and strategy with a particular emphasis on the implications for present and future national strategy,” said Chris Inglis, the panel’s moderator. “While most in the audience were familiar with the broad aspects of the period covered, few had ever enjoyed a ringside seat of a discussion on the thinking and events that informed the creation of a new domain and the attendant strategy policy and organization represented in today's United States Cyber Command and its close partner the National Security Agency.”
"The country must mobilize to deal with the growing cyber and information operations threats, especially in cybersecurity,” said Studeman. “Educating our best and brightest ‘People’ is absolutely strategic to improving overall national cyber resilience, and to working with the public and private sides to secure better defenses.”
The summit's emphasis on networking gave students and leaders communication opportunities through networking timeslots, luncheons, receptions and a keynote dinner presentation by Congressman Mike Rogers. In parallel with the summit was a cyber “Capture the Flag” competition. This competition included 36 midshipmen and cadets from USNA, West Point, and the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard Academies, as well as five sailors from NIOC Pensacola's Cyber Protection Team (CPT) and five participants from the NSA. Over the 8-hour competition, participants were able to showcase their offensive cyber tradecraft in an environment that fostered innovation, teamwork, and problem solving. More importantly, the USNA team took first place in this inaugural event.
Dr. Martin Libicki, USNA’s Maryellen and Richard L. Keyser distinguished visiting professor in cyber security studies, chaired a panel titled "Responding to Unacceptable State Behavior in Cyberspace" to discuss cybersecurity policy by focusing on a particular question: How should the United States have responded to Russia's hack of the DNC and other political targets? Although no panelist took great exception to what was done, one noted that the problem of Chinese hacking of U.S. corporations took five years to resolve, and no one should expect that the problem of Russian hacking of the U.S. political system would be solved much faster. Another offered that the problem of Russian hacking was a subset of protecting the West from a formerly defensive but not increasingly aggressive Russia; it should not be viewed as simply a cyberspace problem. His panel included Dr. James A. Lewis, distinguished visiting professor in cyber security studies at USNA.
“Conferences like these give us an opportunity to lay the foundations for jointness with future generations of officers," said Lewis, who also serves as senior vice president for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
The second day was opened by Mark McLaughlin, chairman and CEO of the Palo Alto Networks and a 1988 West Point graduate. His comments were focused on how to use the collective wisdom of those experts in the audience along with all of the midshipmen and cadets who are at the academic “ground zero” of military professional development to ensure that cybersecurity can be managed and its threats minimized in both the public and private domains, while taking advantage of all the cyber domain has to offer.
“The Naval Academy hosts many large-format conferences and symposia each year, so we're pretty experienced in this area,” said Andrew Phillips, the USNA’s academic dean and provost. “But this was our first time hosting the JSA Cyber Summit, and wow … did this event really exceed all expectations! It's possible that the JSA Cyber Summit this year included the most impressive set of speakers and panels we have ever hosted in one event. Since our goal at Navy is to be the national leader in undergraduate cyber education, it seems fitting to me that we would – and should – play host to just this kind of event as often as possible.”
On the second day, Carter spoke on a panel along with his West Point counterpart, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, and Air Force Lt. Gen William Bender, the USAF chief information dominance officer and chief information officer. The panel focused on service-specific approaches to cyber education and training, during which each of the distinguished panelists was able to briefly explain the importance each service and service academy places on ensuring that all of our future leaders have a deeper understanding and awareness of how the cyber domain will impact them, regardless of their specific community or operational specialty.
In a panel discussion entitled “The Future of Cybersecurity Regulation,” moderated by Jeff Kosseff, assistant professor of cyber law at USNA, the audience heard panelists’ predictions for the enforcement of cybersecurity laws by federal and state regulators. The panel consisted of Doug Gansler, the former Maryland attorney general; Marc Groman, former privacy adviser to President Obama; Nancy Libin, former Justice Department chief privacy and civil liberties officer; Robert Schoshinski, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy & Identity Protection; and Emery Simon, counsel to Business Software Alliance, Inc. Among other issues, the panelists discussed the likelihood that Congress would replace the 47 state data breach notification laws with a consistent national standard. The panelists also engaged in a spirited debate about privacy and government surveillance.
The two-day summit brought a total of five panels and five keynote presentations to the C-suite level crowd and young students and professionals. The collaboration-encouraging environment helped to establish a rapport with the broader cyber community which our future leaders here at USNA will enter.
“This was a great collection of cyber geniuses,” said Midshipman 4th Class Rae-Kelly Hamilton. “For the professionals, I am sure it was beneficial to exchange ideas and thoughts. As a young person just stepping into my career in the cyber domain, it was a great inspiration-endowing and thought-provoking experience. I look forward to attending next year!”
The closing keynote address was provided by Mr. Rick Ledgett, NSA deputy director.
"We must strive to harness the knowledge and creativity of our collective workforces and to provide a culture that embraces diversity of thought and ideas and inspires people to think outside of the box when it comes to meeting emerging cyber challenges, said Ledgett.
Ledgett also serves on the USNA’s Cyber Board of Advisors and has been closely involved and engaged in the continued development of cyber education at the academy.
"In a world where technology changes constantly and our adversaries' tradecraft evolves just as rapidly, we have no other choice than to partner to make our critical national security systems and the nation's critical infrastructure more resilient,” he said. “I've seen the incredible things that smart motivated people can do when faced with seemingly intractable problems. We can get there together, and we must.”
“All in all, this was a fantastic, meaningful, and collaborative event for all of the Service Academies,” said Tortora. “The Naval Academy Center for Cyber Security Studies will continue to seek ways such as this to spotlight the great efforts of our staff, faculty, and Midshipmen in leaning forward on this nationally significant field of study.”
Information about USNA’s Cyber Science Dept. can be found at https://www.usna.edu/CyberDept/. Information about USNA’s Center for Cyber Security Studies can be found at https://www.usna.edu/CyberCenter/