Wednesday, December 18, 2013

IWBC Course Material

Course material from Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) is now posted online for your reference.  A link will be kept on our Resources page (among some other amazing resources as well).

In addition to the IWBC slides, the Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) modules have been posted there as well.



Saturday, December 7, 2013


Big congrats to some Junior Intelligence Officers in our Information Dominance Corps for being selected as the 2013 Rear Admiral Thomas A. Brooks Naval Intelligence Junior Officer of the Years, in the 11th iteration of this award.

Afloat: LTJG Stuart M. Vidmar, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One

Ashore: LT Joseph M. Hatfield, Task Force Six Seven

Expeditionary: LT Willard E. Ball, Naval Special Warfare Development Group

There were 12 nominations in the afloat category, 13 nominations in the ashore category, and 4 nominations in the expeditionary category.

To acknowledge and potentially award your Intelligence Specialist Sailors in a similar manner, make sure you check out the COMMANDER DAN F. SHANOWER INTELLIGENCE SPECIALIST OF THE YEAR message.

Friday, December 6, 2013


We have many great Intelligence Specialist's in the Information Dominance Corps.  So many demonstrate a high degree off initiative, outstanding military appearance, exemplary military and professional conduct, and contribute significantly to their command's intelligence mission.

Time to publicly acknowledge and potentially award their efforts and nominate your outstanding Intelligence Specialists!  Message is pasted below with highlights.

For those in the Information Warfare Community, don't forget about the Captain Rochefort IWO Distinguished Leadership award.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AIS Hacked

Several security researches teamed up to show how the Automatic Identification System (AIS) can be hacked.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sebastian Thrun and the 21st Century Textbook

About a month ago I was attending the Tech-X conference at USAA's main campus.  What a great setup they have for all their Information Technology employees.  They push for employee innovation and customer satisfaction at every turn.

The keynote speaker for the event was Sebastian Thrun (DARPA Grand Challenge, Google Glass, Google Autonomous car, Standford Professor, Udacity, genius...)

This guy has been around the block in new technologies and has a complete and contagious passion for his work.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


It is time for us Information Warfare Officers to nominate our deserving peers, CWO2 to O5, for recognition of their "superior career achievement".  Nominations are due to FCCC10FNSAHAWARDS@NAVY.MIL NLT 07 February 2014.

There were 7 nominations for the 2013 award.  The winner was LCDR Lemuel "Seth" Lawrence, executive officer of Navy Information Operations Command Pensacola.1

Monday, November 11, 2013

On Veteran's Day, a toast!

I propose a toast, to our Veterans...

May their fortitude and honor reign on in those that currently serve.

To all those that served honorably, we give thanks to you for the perilous trails you trekked, the months and years you spent away from family and friends, the battles you both won and lost, the tragedies you witnessed , but also the great achievements you commanded.  Ultimately, however, we thank you for the freedom you have selflessly defended and given us.

Continue to tell your sea stories, so that we may learn of and from past trials.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview: Active Duty to the Private Sector

Have you thought about leaving active duty for the private sector? Maybe you are about to retire and want to start a second career. For folks who have "been there, done that," there are a few words of wisdom they undoubtedly could share with active duty members.

This blog post provides a brief interview of a Colonel Barry Hensley USA (Ret.). He made the jump from active to private sector, almost overnight.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy 238th Birthday

I believe completely in studying and learning from history.  Yet we have what most consider a "young" community.  Fortunately, lessons in leadership, mentoring, and following ... lessons in valor, fortitude, and resilience ... lessons in honor, courage, and commitment ... and yes, lessons in organization, intelligence, and technology are found all over our Navy's 238 year history.

Following the lead of speakers at our local Navy Day Ball, would like to share quotes, chosen purposefully, from some of our greatest leaders of the past.  But looking forward, for our Information Dominance Corps, what "seas" are ours to control and what "ships" do we sail, protecting our people and our nation as we have done for 238 years?

To the United States Navy!  Happy birthday, Shipmates!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trusting Technology

I am (more slowly than I'd like) making my way through "Wired For War" by P.W. Singer which I pulled of the CNO's reading list some time back.  Lately I've had lots of time in airports and planes, so have been able to get in a lot of good reading.  I'd like to make a few posts, not necessarily directly about the book, but more about some topics the book covers.  This time around ... trusting technology.

Monday, September 23, 2013

NIST Cybersecurity Framework Draft - Not Ready For Primetime

When Executive Order 13636, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity1,” was released earlier this year, it called for the development of a cybersecurity framework.  The purpose, as expected given the myriad of news articles covering critical infrastructure cybersecurity, was to improve the cybersecurity posture of these organizations by giving them a voluntary framework that enables them to identify, assess, and manage cyber risk.  Fortunately, the “Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework2” is still in draft form, with the latest round of development workshops just completed in Dallas, TX, because it seems like the lessons that should have been learned by other similar frameworks have not yet made their way into the current discussion.

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 reasons why you need to learn to code

You don't need to have a degree in Computer Science to write a little bit of code.  Sure it may be daunting at first, but spend a weekend doing some research and working through hands-on examples, and you will be hooked!  Now I'm not talking about developing the next Angry Birds or some complex networking application.

Start small, start with "scripting", and after the initial hurdle, your momentum will keep you moving.

Why would you want to do this?  Well here are three reasons you need to learn to code:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

History: Computer Bug

Yesterday, an interesting little bit popped up on my "This Day in US Navy History" feed.  Most everyone here has probably heard the name Admiral Grace Hopper.

She was not only the first programmer of the Navy's Mark I computer, not only the first recipient of Data Processing Management Associations "Man of the Year" award, not only the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University...

But did you know that she was the first...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Building Relationships With Language

I was recently given the opportunity to attend and work a planning exercise at a Combatant Command.  This event involved meeting and collaborating closely with more than 15 partner nations, high majority of which spoke Spanish.  Some of which only spoke Spanish.

And yes, I speak and understand (regardless of (and apologies to) my high school Spanish teacher) practically no Spanish.

And honestly ... I was rather embarrassed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tactical Communications Demand Adaptive Software

In a recent newsletter, The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) published an article about research they are doing with the military, tactical communications, and agile computing . I'd like to share the newsletter and a few thoughts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A reflection on almost 30 years in computing

As I approached the age of 40, I began to reflect on the almost 30 years I have been using computers (20 of which have been full-time in the IT industry). I enumerated, in my head, the things I have seen and done in during this time. I'd like to share a few with you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

IA Must be Easy

In the early 2000's, illegal acquisition of music was rampant.  These things called MP3's were shared between computers through physical connections like CD's as well as the virtual, like torrents on the Internet.  You know who solved the problem, though?


And you know how they solved it?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cyber Kill Chain: Hope or Hype?

Cyber Kill Chain: Hope or Hype?

The concept of a Cyber Kill Chain was adopted from the military kill chain concept, which describes the stages of an attack. As you might guess, a cyber kill chain does just that, but for cyber attacks. This post will discuss some of the practical issues you will need to consider if you want to implement your own cyber kill chain.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reducing Risks Through Informed Security Control Selection

Risk Management is not about the number of security controls chosen, but about the security controls well chosen.  The Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative describes a risk management process made up of four steps: frame, assess, respond, and monitor.1  This represents an effective way of making sure that due diligence is used in the risk management, and ultimately control selection process.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Notes: One Sheet

I have seen a few articles recently that all talk about the art and value of taking notes.  And this is my response to 99u's poll of, "What's your note-taking system?"

In our masses-of-information-at-your-fingertips type of world we live in, I am a big proponent of taking notes.  And one of my favorite ways to take notes is by what I like to call ... One Sheet.

It is very important how we present information to both friends and foes alike.  When we want the information to be read, we must keep it simple, clean, and accessible.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Help! I want to do Cyber but I don't have a technical degree

Do you need a technical degree in order to work in cyber security? Not really.

As a Navy Reserve Information Warfare Officer (IWO), I recently attended the 2-month long Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) at Corry Station, Pensacola Florida. The course aims to provide basic instruction to active duty and reserve IWO's in the all things IW. Cyber was one of the topics of instruction. Some of the officers in the course transfer from different Navy communities into IW. These folks tend to have a mix of technical and non-technical undergraduate degrees. Unless you have been living in a cave for the last several years, cyber is a really hot topic right now, both in the Department of Defense (DoD) and in the private sector. Naturally, some of the officers in class were concerned that their liberal arts degrees would keep them from participating in cyber operations. This is not necessarily the case, and I'd like to share my thoughts on how one can bolster their resume to be more attractive in this area. I believe my thoughts can be applied to both to the military and civilian worlds.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back To The Sextant?

How much do you trust your electronics?

An interesting article with video over The Old Salt Blog titled, "How Secure is Shipboard GPS? Not Very – GPS Spoofing Takes Control of $80MM Yacht", shows how GPS satellites can be overpowered and an attacker can commandeer the GPS navigation system aboard a ship (although far more vehicles than a ship are possible I imagine).

Personally, I always wonder if folks on the highway are listening in on my fine selection of tunes when I am running my iPhone through an FM modulator...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Is enlisted retention still an issue?

The title of this post is really a question for you all.  My perspective is rather constrained to CTN's, but in our Information Dominance Corps, is enlisted retention still an issue?

I just recently turned over my division of CTN's that in the last 2.5 years grew from 19 to 45, had about a dozen Sailors PCS, about half of them reenlisting, but had only a single Sailor drop paperwork to leave the Navy.

In my reflection of my first DIVO experience and after reading through Sharon Anderson's article in CHIPS titled, "Recruiting, Training and Maintaining Talent in the Cyber Workforce", I really wonder what all the fuss is about?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Survival Hints for Young Creative Weirdos

I love the title of this post.  It is a snippet from a brilliant article I found over the weekend titled, "Hey, Kid: Thoughts For The Young Oddballs We Need So Badly" by Linda Holmes.

Now I don't want to go so far as to making it seem like the world is full of hipsters (those who are different for the sake of being different which in turn makes them all alike...), but I do firmly believe that our culture is really beginning to celebrate the oddities that make us all unique.  And one of the side effects of embracing this diversity is unlocking restrictions on creativity, or things that at one point may have been considered taboo.

The key, which is covered in a just a few points in the article which I'll highlight below, is making sure that people (young, old, and those in between) know that it is OK to be different and think outside the box.

So here are the points from Holme's article with a Navy spin...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wi-Vi: Exploiting Known Technology

This is really neat.  Apparently in our information age, WiFi can transmit information in more ways than you might realize.  While 1's and 0's might transmit on the waves, have you ever thought about the propagation properties and the information that can be gleaned and derived from it?

A fairly extensive article over on CIMSEC offers the following description on Wi-Vi:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Proactive Decision Making

When leaders need to make decisions, as expected, they endeavor to make good ones.  Unfortunately, without good data at hand, decisions can end up being unintentionally bad.

One of the major tasks for leaders is to ask the right questions.  These questions should be the starting point for the generation of metrics that are required for coherent answers.  If the right questions aren’t being asked, or more likely, no questions at all, then any analyst will fall back to submit the data they have on hand.  This is a dangerous precedent to set because when leaders rely only on what data is already available, the existing data gathering will likely distract the leader from asking the right questions. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Modern Day Wizard War

"This was a secret war, whose battles were lost or won unknown to the public; and only with difficulty is it comprehended, even now, by those outside the small high scientific circles concerned.  No such warfare had ever been waged by mortal men.  The terms in which it could be recorded or talked about were unintelligible to ordinary folk.  Yet if we had not mastered its profound meaning and used its mysteries even while we saw them only in the glimpse, all the efforts, all the prowess of the fighting airmen, all the bravery and sacrifices of the people, would have been in vain." Winston Churchill1
World War II.  This "secret war", this "race for electronic superiority"2, this "Wizard War"3, as Winston Churchill so eloquently called it, led to the development and deployment of so many new technologies, it makes you wonder what great advancements of the 20th century may not have come to fruition had there not been the price tag of war.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What would you say ya do here?

Another great concept that a recent Skipper pushed on our Wardroom (through IW/IDW boards) that I in turn encourage upon my own Sailors is the concept of an "Elevator Speech".

An elevator speech is simply a short, 30 second to 2 minute, speech you have in your brain's back pocket that could be delivered at any single moment of any day with zero preparation.  It's name comes from the idea that by chance you find yourself in an elevator with a executive, VIP, or Flag, and they ask the question... "What would you say ya do here..." there is no awkward silence that follows.  I have also heard it called an "Elevator Pitch" for when you can quickly sell your idea to anyone that will listen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

History: Huff-Duff

While making my way through Ladislas Farago's "The Tenth Fleet", I have been truly fascinated by the ingenuity of great minds in the 1940's as well as the valor exhibited by the commercial vessels that transited the Atlantic.

One technical topic that has pages, rightfully from its importance, dedicated to it, is a product of the former mentioned above: Huff-duff, or HF-DF, or High Frequency Direction Finding.  This technology was brought to relevancy through precision by the Allies after the U-Boat Command dismissed inaccuracies at the beginning of the war as "no cause for anxiety"1, leading to terrible COMSEC procedures which ultimately led to defeat.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Navy Interview: CDR Sean Heritage

The below interview is a re-post from my personal blog (pre-OTNG).  I feel that this blog is the perfect medium for this type of post and hope to do more of these in the future.  Enjoy!

In an attempt to not just answer my own curiosities, but to foster the beginnings of a discussion for more than myself, I have decided to start and share a new thread … Interviews with Navy Leadership.
So much of what we do is based so much on perspective.  Certain people have certain experiences which give them certain perspectives on certain situations.  What I hope to gain from interviewing some of our Navy leaders is added perspective.  There is no way we can all have every experience, and I for one wouldn't care to try.  So why not ping those that have come before and have clearly taken a good path?
If you enjoy this type of content, I encourage you to participate!  Leave comments, ask questions, suggest future interviews, do something more than just reading the words.  I too only have a certain perspective and may not ask the questions that really need to be asked.  All right, so the invitation is out there … the rest is up to you!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

CNO's Rapid Innovation Cell

Have ideas about enhancing our Navy and bringing it further into the 21st century by utilizing things like Google Glass, 3-D printing, and crowd-sourced war-gaming?  All with a budget upwards of $2 million?  Hey IDC, this is a call to us!

The CNO's Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) application period for FY2014 is now open and ready for you to make a submission.  What is this thing called CRIC?  What are the expectations?  How do I apply?  As this was a first heard for me a week ago, I had the same questions...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What is an Information Professional?

Me: Hi, I'm LCDR Stephen Gray
Other Naval Officer: Nice to meet you. I see you have that new pin [IDWO]... What do you do?
Me: I'm an Information Professional Officer.
Other Naval Officer: What's that?

This summarizes my most common interaction with other officers that are not part of the Information Dominance Corps (IDC).  While I've become much better at answering this question, mostly because I expect it, I find it unfortunate that the frequency in which I get it hasn't changed.

So what do I say?  I say: "The Information Professional (IP) community is part of the Information Dominance Corps.  We are the leader for the Navy's IT operations and investments and we provide communication, network, and space capabilities to operational commanders."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Who is VADM Rogers?

Down here at NIOC Texas, we were recently given the opportunity to host VADM Rogers for a special visit as he presided over a Change of Command ceremony.  At a Wardroom function, it was brought up to our guest that one of the most important questions in our Information Warfare qualification board is, "Who is VADM Rogers?"  To this he gave a quite a chuckle...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Navy Cyber: The 5th Operational Domain

Apparently this "Cyberspace" thing is pretty cool, yeah?  It is the buzz all over the news feeds as well with the talking heads on TV.  Denial of Service this, SCADA that1, First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights2, Internet kill switches3 (a little dated), etc...

Well not only is this a very dynamic topic in the news, it is also an extremely dynamic domain in which to operate.  Our Navy recognizes this and has Tenth Fleet tasked to support.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Sea of Resources

As an Information Warfare Officer in the US Navy, there's a good chance that if you throw a rock at your place of work, you are more likely to hit a computer geek than water.  This is a good thing.  Not the throwing rocks part.  More the goodness it is to be surrounded by computer geeks.

Why's that?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

On The Net Gang, Arriving. Ding Ding!

Firstly and importantly, a little bit about this blog's quasi-namesake:
A total of 176 (150 Navy and 26 Marines) enlisted radio operators were specially trained at a unique school located on the roof of the old Navy Department Building during 1928-1941. Known as the "On-The-Roof" Gang (OTRG), they were trained to intercept and analyze foreign radio communications. This group of dedicated and skilled operators formed the vanguard of the U.S. Naval Communications Intelligence efforts and laid the cornerstone of Naval Cryptology.1
As this new warfare domain called Cyberspace2 becomes a greater part of our lives every day, I felt it appropriate to adopt this name as we pioneer a path in (and for) Information Dominance.