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Rob Joyce: Weapons Systems Security, Post-Quantum Encryption Among NSA’s Near-Term Priorities

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Rob Joyce
Rob Joyce Cybersecurity Director NSA

Rob Joyce, cybersecurity director at the National Security Agency (NSA) and a previous Wash100 Award winner, said one of NSA’s near-term priorities is ensuring the security of defense weapons platforms and the agency intends to pursue that by taking a holistic approach to assessing those systems to make sure that U.S. citizens have better understanding of the networks underpinning that equipment, Nextgov reported Wednesday.

“We've got now, you know, wings with computers strapped on them. We float computers on the ocean. We launch computers with rocket engines on them,” Joyce said at a summit Wednesday.

“We don't think of our weapons systems and weapons platforms in that way—but in reality, they don't function without those computer networks. How do we harden them, defend them and even instrument them, which is often a gap in that world,” he added.

Joyce said NSA’s cyber teams also want to ensure that the country has next-generation encryption to protect confidential data and communications against potential cyber threats posed by quantum computing.

“So, we've got to be rolling out that post-quantum capability today to secure today's secrets for decades into the future,” he said.

Joyce also cited NSA’s efforts to address the increase in ransomware attacks.

“But what we're doing is stepping up with a surge on ransomware issues to help the FBI, [U.S. Cyber Command], even things like the Treasury and State departments—because what we can do is we can inform their ability to get after the criminals,” he added.