Fleet Cyber Unit deploys in support of Op MANITOU

Published on LCDR Simon Kelly (author), LSIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Toowoomba (F156), Fleet Cyber Unit (FCU)

Able Seaman Cryptologic Networks Jackson Cronin explains the results of a test to Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Brittany Ely while onboard HMAS Toowoomba. (photo: LSIS Richard Cordell)
Able Seaman Cryptologic Networks Jackson Cronin explains the results of a test to Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Brittany Ely while onboard HMAS Toowoomba.

Defending HMAS Toowoomba and deployed for the first time on operations in the Middle East is an element of the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Cyber Unit.

The Fleet Cyber Unit deployed two personnel and specialised equipment to work across multiple systems and defend networks against cyber attack.

Fleet Cyber Unit detachment lead, Lieutenant David Hayes, described the defensive operators as a roving guard force that searches the network for unusual trends and malicious activity.

“The team’s goal is also to normalise Cryptologic-Network category integration into the full spectrum of cyberspace operations within maritime campaigns," Lieutenant Hayes said.

Cyberspace is the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.

The aim of Navy’s cyber operations is to fight and win in the information domain by effectively integrating cyberspace effects in support of the mission and at-sea deployments.

“FCU will contribute by developing priorities to defend Navy’s mission-critical systems from adversary collection, manipulation and denial,” Lieutenant Hayes said.

“In today’s operational environment, state and non-state actors regularly attempt to use cyber effects to achieve results that can have a greater impact on Royal Australian Navy operations than traditional kinetic means, often with an added layer of deniability.”

The nature of cyber warfare also means adversaries deliberately target the most vulnerable systems.

The FCU detachment is also conducting cybersecurity awareness briefings to Toowoomba’s ship's company.

Able Seaman Cryptologic Networks Jackson Cronin said the emphasis was on the Navy Information Warfare Branch-developed ‘Navy Nine’ cyber awareness criteria.

“The ship’s company have been receptive to our support as they understand the significance of cyber threats in the Middle East,” Able Seaman Cronin said.

This is the 68th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy unit in the Middle East since 1990, Toowoomba’s sixth deployment to the region, and her second as part of Operation MANITOU.