The U.S. Navy named Aaron Weis the new chief information officer following news of several cybersecurity breaches that put the service on guard.
Weis’ position to serve as the Principal Staff Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy information technology management, digital, data and cyber strategy, the Navy announced. The position is a part of a broader effort to help fend off Chinese and other adversarial hackers.
“This new DoN CIO team will not only integrate key Navy and Marine Corps Information Technology initiatives to support our warfighters, but will also provide an opportunity to strengthen information technology (IT) talent across the naval services,” said Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. “They will be responsible to the SECNAV to ensure that naval IT spending is directed to the highest value opportunity areas as established in the National Defense Strategy.”
Weis was the senior adviser to the Defense Department’s chief information officer before he was chosen as the Navy’s CIO. According to his Defense Department biography, his work included programs such as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and the Enterprise Cloud.
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer stressed in the announcement the importance of data security and digital information in the announcement, saying it “has become the center of all we do to defend the nation.”
“The strategic use of data and information resources represents a critical enabler of lethality and readiness. Managing and protecting our data is crucial as we confront the renewal of great power competition,” he added.
Weis will lead efforts to safeguard the Navy and Marine Corps’ secrets by pushing what officials called cultural changes on a number of fronts including basic cybersecurity practices, accountability and improving security practices for defense contractors, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Small defense contractors, accord to the WSJ, are frequently targeted by China and other countries, like North Korea, Iran, and Russia.
While the role is to stop all hackers from acquiring sensitive intelligence from the U.S. Navy, China remains the primary concern.
“They’re never going to stop,” Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said of China in an interview. “They are going to be at this for a very long time, largely because they’ve been successful at it.”
China has places itself on top of the military’s concerns regarding cybersecurity.
The nation is building up its military in ways that threaten U.S. and allied interests, particularly in the South China Sea.
Additionally, Chinese intelligence agents used hacking tools they stole from the National Security Agency against targets in the United States, Europe, and Asia.