Navy Sends Cyber Team to Singapore in Destroyer Probe

Sent to look for 'any anomalous activity'—i.e., a cyberattack
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2017 7:26 AM CDT
Navy Probing Whether Crash Was Work of Hackers
In this Aug. 21, 2017, file photo, damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Changi Naval Base in Singapore.   (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

In what Foreign Policy says could be a "startling development in naval warfare," the US Navy is looking into whether last month's crash of the USS John S. McCain, which killed 10 sailors, may have been the handiwork of hackers. Per the Washington Free Beacon, the Navy has dispatched its Cyber Command 10th Fleet to Singapore—its first time overseas—where the team will "look for and assess any anomalous activity that may exist onboard," Vice Adm. Jan Tighe said Thursday. That investigation could take months. The Navy is taking the possibility of its computers being compromised so seriously, in fact, that looking into cyberattacks will now be standard protocol after accidents, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran told Congress last week, per USNI News.

Hacking isn't, however, what investigators are looking into in the crash of the USS Fitzgerald, which ran into a container ship on June 17, killing seven sailors. In fact, no evidence of a cyberattack has emerged for the McCain crash, either—Moran says "just about every three letter agency in … DC" has looked into it. There's also the possibility the McCain wasn't the vessel hacked—it could've been the Alnic MC, the merchant ship it collided with, per Breaking Defense. The Navy simply wants to cover all its bases. What's worrisome is that both Navy ships are considered top of the line—meaning if there are problems with those two vessels, questions are now arising about the fleet's ability in general to face down a litany of possible threats in the Asia region. Tighe noted Thursday that the Navy has allotted $1.5 billion to bolster its defenses. (More USS John S. McCain stories.)

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