The Navy is investigating the possibility that cyber hacking was involved in the recent collision between the USS McCain and a merchant ship (1). The Navy is doing this as a cyber warfare test case exercise rather than because anyone believes that cyber hacking occurred. I so often criticize Navy leadership but this deserves accolades. This is an excellent opportunity to do a live warfighting test of the Navy’s counter-cyber capabilities and to begin establishing procedures. Who knows, maybe there was hacking involved? Until you do the investigation, you won’t know. Therefore, treat it like there was an attack until you prove otherwise. That said, please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. I’m not even remotely suggesting that a cyber attack occurred.
One interesting aspect of this incident that the article points out is that a cyber attacker would have been more likely to hack the merchant ship’s systems, causing it to steer into the McCain, than to try hacking the destroyer’s systems. That presents a challenge from an investigative perspective, in trying to get access to the merchant ship’s systems. That, in itself, is a lesson learned, already!
I would also hope that the investigation might uncover cyber vulnerabilities, as they proceed, even they weren’t exploited. There is nothing but good that can come from this.
This needs to become routine and, indeed, it appears that it will be.
“The Navy is making cyber investigations automatic after any mishap, starting with the at-sea collision that killed 10 sailors aboard the USSMcCain.”
That’s outstanding, if overdue. We know that
, China , NKorea, and Russia are conducting cyber attacks on US systems routinely
– and that’s only from the incidents that have been made public! There are, undoubtedly, many more that have
not been publicized. Iran
I cannot say enough good about the Navy’s action on this. In fact, the only negative is how long it has taken the Navy to initiate this investigation. They should have been on the case immediately but, hey, this is the first test case so I’ll cut them some slack.
Well done, Navy!
(1)Breaking Defense website, "Was The Merchant Ship Hacked? McCain Collision Is First Run For Navy Cyber Investigators",Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr.,