Cyber Awareness & Risk Management

Coast Guard Cyber Protection Teams train for the fight

Submitted by the Office of Cyberspace Forces

The marine transportation system (MTS) is the backbone of the United States’ economy, through which $5.4 trillion and 90% of U.S. trade flows, making it an attractive target to adversaries both within and outside national boundaries. The evolution of cyberspace makes it easier for these adversaries to transcend time zones and borders to deliver devastating effects.  The MTS has seen an increase in cyber-incidents, making it clearer than ever that the United States Coast Guard must be prepared for the fight. 

To counter these threats the Coast Guard has created Cyber Protection Teams (CPT).  Based in Washington, D.C. CPT is the Coast Guard’s deployable unit responsible for offering
cybersecurity capabilities to the Marine Transportation System (MTS). CPT consists of three teams of active duty Coast
Guard cybersecurity professionals who are trained and certified in delivering the four core CPT capabilities: Assess, Hunt, Clear and Harden. The CPT ’s mission is to enhance the resiliency of MTS Critical Infrastructure against cyber disruption through consistent proactive engagements with public and private industry organizations. The CPT stands ready for worldwide deployment to
conduct operations.

“Train like we fight” is the maxim, and just like rescue swimmers and boarding teams undergo realistic training, CPTs participate in cyber exercises that simulate real-world cyber-attack scenarios. 

This year, Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER) participated in a series of joint and interagency exercises to assess and sharpen their skills. Cyber Yankee, hosted by the Massachusetts National Guard, kicked off the summer focused on training military members and civilian agencies to combat cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure in New England. Simultaneously, CGCYBER participated in Cyber Dawn in Sacramento, California, hosted by the California and Nevada National Guard. This exercise provided a dynamic and realistic training environment that enabled participating teams to assess their preparedness in responding to a simulated cyber-attack affecting the West Coast and Southwest FEMA Regions. The Coast Guard’s inaugural CPT, Coast Guard District 11, and District 13 participated in Cyber Shield 2021. The exercise, which brought together over 750 participants from National Guard units, international partner nations, state and local government, and other federal agencies, focused on developing, training and exercising cyber forces in the areas of computer network internal defensive measures and cyber incident response. Making the exercise even more unique, a “capture the flag” gamification approach and social media linkages enhanced team play.  

During Cyber Yankee 2021, Lieutenant Jordan Lawi (CGCYBER- USCG Reserve) highlights Joint MA National Guard and Coast Guard team’s threat hunting operations protecting a regional critical infrastructure partner. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lieutenant Nathaniel Toll. 

As the Coast Guard continues to grow its CPT capability, exercise participation will continue to be a critical component of CPT training. “Exercising across the joint force, interagency, and stakeholder groups is an integral part of our operational readiness equation,” said Rear Admiral Michael Ryan, Commander Coast Guard Cyber Command. “Coast Guard elements, including 1790 CPT, performed spectacularly alongside their cyberspace operational force colleagues and elevated the outcomes of the exercise play,” Coast Guard CPTs are gearing up to participate in Cyberstorm 2022 and Cyber Flag 2022.

As illicit and malicious cyber activity becomes more prevalent in the maritime domain, the U.S. Coast Guard will defend against those who attempt to use cyberspace to undermine our national and economic security. Coast Guard CPTs are available to help support maritime partners in hands on assessments and cyber engagements.

Engagement Timeline

Planning: After requesting an engagement, the CPT will work with you to determine the capabilities, scope, parameters of engagement and logistics that fit organization and CPT requirements. Establish trusted points of contact and schedule of key milestones and deliverables leading up to engagement.

Engagement Execution: CPT engagements are typically 1-2 weeks onsite
or in a hybrid remote/onsite format depending on selected capabilities and scope.

Post-Execution: Out-Brief: CPT will provide initial findings to trusted points of contact at end of engagement. A full report will be provided 10 days after end of engagement.

To discuss capability details and what CPT can do for your organization, contact us at MaritimeCyber@uscg.mil.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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