As cyber threats to national security rapidly evolve, the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC), which delivers lifecycle technical and acquisition solutions aligned to Fleet and Marine Corps mission priorities, needed to proactively defend against potential attacks across the globe and protect our national security, the nation’s economy, and public health and safety.
NAVFAC’s Command Information Officer (CIO) needed to elevate conversations around the overall security of its facilities globally, while also safeguarding hundreds of thousands of connected industrial control systems (ICS) from cybersecurity threats ashore. With no time to waste, the Command sought to share its vision succinctly, make the case for resources and articulate material outcomes to ensure their ability to deliver mission outcomes.
Throughline took a human-centered design approach through research and information gathering to understand the many infrastructure and technology complexities needed to execute advanced security protections. We worked closely with the CIO and his team in a series of facilitated information exchange sessions with stakeholders across the NAVFAC organization. The resulting graphically recorded visual artifacts served as foundational elements for the enterprise Ashore Cyber Framework and Strategy with the following objectives:
1. Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and cyber-savvy professionals across the enterprise
2. Implement industry best practices for designing, implementing and maintaining ICS and support infrastructure
3. Develop a consistent and iterative approach to identifying, assessing and managing cybersecurity risk to maintain availability, integrity and confidentiality of all systems.
The Ashore Cyber Framework Map was developed as a communication tool that users could visualize and retain. Throughline strategists developed key messages and talking points that allowed NAVFAC leadership to brief other Naval Commands, including four-star and fleet forces.
The map was just the beginning. After completing it, the design team created numerous communications assets, including a two-minute security video which showed how a hacker entered a facility and placed a pipe bomb in a pipe, as well as the effects of that bomb explosion within a two-minute period.
“The sentiment of everyone I talked to was that this was a truly effective way, at an executive level, to communicate purpose, authority, execution, and also ‘the why behind the what’. The best way to describe the impact of the map—it was the feeling of having something go viral.”
“On the most human level, we were able to communicate and develop greater awareness of our passion, our purpose, our mission, our vision and our values because the map easily, yes easily, allowed us to do that.”
—Brandon Jones, former Principal Deputy Command Information Officer, NAVFAC
The Ashore Cyber Framework Map helped NAVFAC gain proper funding and deploy 100 FTEs across the globe by telling the story of their major threats and challenges, the processes in place to address them, and the federal policies met through this strategy. The map empowered the CIO and team to communicate risks related to shore infrastructure, build support for resources, and earn trust within NAVFAC/Shore Management, while keeping Navy Leadership aligned with the NAVFAC mission.
The map was scaled up and socialized around the Pentagon and Navy SES offices. It went around the world, with briefings in Japan, Hawaii, Italy, Bahrain and Guam highlighting the Ashore Cyber Framework Map and NAVFAC's role in it. In addition to elevating NAVFAC’s status and solidifying their technical authority, the map also put the organization on a platform, articulating at an executive level the threats to the Navy and the Nation—with the Command Information Office leading that charge.
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