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NSWC Panama City strengthens cyber capabilities through collaborative unmanned vehicle exercises

By Katherine Mapp | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | Oct. 8, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. —

Scientists and engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) are conducting cybersecurity exercises in an effort to strengthen naval capabilities.

NSWC PCD’s Cyber Defense of Unmanned Systems and the NSWC PCD CyberLab project teams collaborated to put their unmanned systems capabilities to the test.

Dr. Matthew Bays, Cyber Defense of Unmanned Systems project lead at NSWC PCD, said the goal of the cybersecurity exercise was to analyze any vulnerabilities in unmanned systems.

“The experiment provided a practical, real-world exercise for the engineers in the CyberLab while providing information to improve the cyber hardening technologies that were developed under the Cyber Defense Project,” said Bays.

According to Bays, the exercise was a scenario where an adversary captured an unmanned system and attempted to extract information from it. The team used commercial-off-the-shelf systems coupled with locally developed software to conduct the tests.

Joshua Davis, NSWC PCD cybersecurity engineer serving in support of both projects, said conducting these type of exercises are essential to further the development and strengthening of cyber networks.

“Events such as this are significant because it provides an opportunity for both teams to gain experience and information of value to the Navy in the domain of cybersecurity,” said Davis.

Kate Maglio, NSWC PCD CyberLab project lead, said the collaboration across the technical departments operating as one team have proved to be a benefit in mission successes.

“Cross-departmental and cross-mission area collaborations are a good thing for the command and the Navy because they allow scientists and engineers in multiple mission areas to gain knowledge, experience, and understanding,” said Maglio.

Both teams agreed that these type of exercises are win-wins for the Navy.

“The CyberLab team provided a real-world cybersecurity task and the Cyber Defense team received valuable information on how to make the cybersecurity technologies they developed for unmanned systems better,” said Bays.

The teams gained valuable knowledge and understanding in the areas of cybersecurity and unmanned systems, as well as insight into how to improve the cybersecurity of unmanned systems.