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.