Department officials declined to
place direct blame for the attack.
But the potential for a truly devastating disruption of a nation’s
governmental and commercial
communications was demonstrated in April and May 2006 during a
massive, sophisticated Internet
attack from a network of pirated
computers that paralyzed Estonia
for weeks. In a study released in
October by the Air Force Association, defense analyst Rebecca
Grant called that prolonged denial-of-service assault “Web War I.”
Estonian officials blamed the
overwhelming flood of digital messages on Russian security services
that were reacting to proposals to
relocate a military statue recalling
the “liberation” of the Baltic nation
by Soviet troops in World War II.
Despite help from NATO experts
and others, the cyber assault forced
the Estonian government and its
major financial and commercial
institutions to shut themselves off
from the electronic world until the attacks stopped.
Granger would not talk about any specific assault on
the Navy networks recently, but said “there’s always
activity going on. … There are always people trying to
probe your network, looking for weakness.
“We’re at general quarters, a heightened state of
readiness, 24/7/365, because someone’s either probing
you or managed to get in.”
What is now the Cyber Defense Command started
in about 1995 as a division of the Fleet Information
Warfare Center and became a separate command as the
Navy Computer Instant Response Team in 2003,
before assuming its current identify under Network
Warfare Command, which is commanded by Vice
Adm. H. Denby Starling.
Capt. Roy Petty is the Cyber Defense commander.
Granger said the command is responsible for network defense and network management. In both tasks,
the Norfolk personnel work closely with the systems
administrators and systems managers at all the field
“The network is instrumented so you can see activity happening all over the network,” he said. “Depending
on where the alarms go off, often it’s locally managed.”
The command’s operations also are closely tied in
with the overall Defense Department network security
efforts, directed by the Joint Task Force for Global
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Athena Stovall, assigned to commander, U.S. Third Fleet, in San Diego, scans the network on her computer for intrusions during a cyber war training course at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems
Center. The course is designed to improve how military members act in a real-life
cyber war environment by defending the networks with sweeps and scans of the
system as well as responding to intrusions, such as viruses and probes.
Network Operations in Washington, which, in turn,
falls under the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb.
“We’re all integrated together. The Global
Information Grid is not just the Navy’s network. …
The Navy is just one part of it,” Granger said.
The command’s work force of military and civilian
Defense Department personnel and contractors “are all
highly trained, very skilled in what they do. It’s a very
esoteric skill,” he said.
The command’s enlisted personnel are mostly second
and third class petty officers with information technology,
computer technology or cryptology ratings, Granger said.
“They’ve been trained in analysis, in cyber defense.
They’re very broad in their skill sets,” he said.
The command benefits from a generation of young
people who grew up with computers and bring considerable skills to their Navy jobs.
“We have some people that we’re very glad are on our
side. They can do some very, very scary things,” he said.
Asked about the unit’s ability to attack a potential
adversary’s networks, Granger cited the common football analogy that “the best defense is a good offense.
There are degrees of offensive capabilities out there.
That’s about all I can address.”
Strategic Command is known to have information
warfare specialists with the ability to disrupt other