Navy Bolstering Cybersecurity for Unmanned Vessels

By Mandy Mayfield
Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessel

Leidos photo

The Navy is exploring how to better protect its unmanned vessels with anti-tamper measures to prevent hacking from adversaries.

“We are looking at specifics of anti-tamper [technology] as we do for any platform, but obviously for unmanned, it’s a little bit of a different problem” because sailors won’t be on board to deal with issues that arise, said Rear Adm. Casey J. Moton, program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants.

The sea service is investing big in robotic platforms. Over the future years defense program, the Navy has allocated about $12 billion for unmanned aircraft, surface vessels and underwater systems in fiscal years 2021 through 2025, according to Bloomberg Government.

The ships could be deployed in high-risk environments without putting sailors in harm’s way.

“Although they will be under the protection of their carrier strike group, the vessels are probably at times going to have higher attrition,” Moton said during a webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That’s part of our calculus and part of the way that we’re going forward from that standpoint.”

The service is testing anti-tamper capabilities in its unnamed prototypes to address cybersecurity issues, he said.

The Navy envisions its future large unmanned surface vehicle, or LUSV, as part of the Aegis integrated control system network, which means the vehicle will still be overseen by a human who will make decisions remotely such as telling the vessel when to fire munitions, he said.

The service has taken the need to prevent tampering into account during its wargaming and other studies, Moton said. “From our standpoint, we are doing some robust things for the fact that these vessels will operate [network] capable. Certainly the cyber efforts are robust.”

Topics: Cyber

Comments (1)

Re: Navy Bolstering Cybersecurity for Unmanned Vessels

The issue isn't just Cyber attacks or even Frogmen trying to sneak aboard a USV with no CQB protection. How about something as simple as a ship spraying a water turret at the USV to knock over the masts and delicate antennaes, or water spray with foam to foam over the weapons and sensors, or spraying paint at the USV to cover everything and rendering it totally ineffective? Or even firing a Harpoon with a net to foul all the propellers up? There are less lethal physical methods to deal with USVs than just Cyber attacks.

P at 8:55 PM
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