Hack the Machine!

Published on Royal Australian Navy (author)

Location(s): Brooklyn, NY, USA

Topic(s): Cyber

The Fathom5 ‘Trudi’ maritime systems hacking simulator used by the Royal Australian Navy cyber team at the Hack the Machine event in New York. (photo: )
The Fathom5 ‘Trudi’ maritime systems hacking simulator used by the Royal Australian Navy cyber team at the Hack the Machine event in New York.

Five members of the Royal Australian Navy’s emergent Defensive Cyber Operations workforce were provided a rare opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with our closest allies from the US, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand through attendance at the US Navy’s annual Hack the Machine event.

Rear Admiral Steve Parode, Director of the US Navy’s Warfare Integration Directorate, invited members of the Five Eyes naval community to contribute participants to a combined team for the event.

Hack the Machine is an open event that attracts members of the information security community to participate in a range of activities aimed at vulnerability discovery, exploitation and subsequent security hardening of maritime information and operational technologies.

The 2019 event was held in Brooklyn Navy Yard, in Brooklyn, New York, over the period 6-8 September, and involved over 500 participants.

The event provided the Royal Australian Navy participants with valuable insights into the capabilities of not only our Five Eye partners, but most importantly the potential vulnerabilities that maritime systems may present for exploitation.

Warrant Officer Mark Baker of the Directorate of Navy Cyber and Space, Navy Information Warfare Branch coordinated the Five Eyes teams numbering 20 members.

“The event provided a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge and experience with our close allies, discovering inherent vulnerabilities in systems that we rely on daily for safe navigation and situational awareness in the maritime environment,” Warrant Officer Baker said.

The Five Eyes teams participated in both the educational and competitive tracks of the Maritime ‘Hack the Ship’ portion of the event.

Participants were provided access to a suite of simulated networked maritime systems designed by Fathom5.

These included geographic information systems (GIS), radar, weather sensors and programmable logic controllers (PLC) often seen in engineering systems.

The educational track provided participants with a limited guided experience, where points were awarded on successful completion of activities, whereas the competitive track saw participants provided no guidance and very little detail surrounding the systems in use.

“Both our educational and competitive teams performed very well, finishing third and fifth respectively overall,” Warrant Officer Baker said.

During the awards ceremony, Mr Zac Staples, CEO of Fathom5, advised participants that plans were already underway for Hack the Machine 2020, with the intent to hold the next event in either Texas or California.