United States Coast Guard

Cyber Strategy


T H E  C O M M A N D A N T
of the United States Coast Guard

Since the early days of the Revenue Cutter Service, we have been sentinels on our nation’s waters, harbors, and ports. Our forebears often deployed in single ships upon our waters to protect our nation from waterborne threats and enforce U.S. laws and customs in the maritime environment. While much has changed over the centuries, as U.S. Coast Guard missions expand across the sea, air, land, cyberspace, and space domains and into the global maritime commons, our ethos and operational doctrine remain steadfast: we will employ a risk-based approach to protect the nation from threats originating in and through the maritime environment, and we will leverage the full set of our authorities; the ingenuity and leadership of our people; and the breadth of our civil, military and law enforcement partnerships to protect the nation, its waterways, and those who operate upon them from harm.

Today’s Coast Guard is a global leader in a complex operating environment. In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cyber Strategy established cyberspace as a new operational domain for the U.S. Coast Guard. This Cyber Strategic Outlook reaffirms that foundation and that we will bring the same ethos, proven doctrine and operational concepts, and over 230 years of experience to bear on our operations in and through cyberspace. The events of the last five years, including the exploitation of U.S. Coast Guard networks and information, the attacks on maritime critical infrastructure, and adversarial efforts to undermine our democratic processes - not just by exploiting networks, but by negatively shaping information - reinforce that cyberspace is a contested domain. Working in close collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), our government partners, foreign allies, and the maritime industry, we will act to protect the marine transportation system from threats delivered in and through cyberspace and we will hold accountable those who would do our nation harm through attacks on our networks, operations, or the Marine Transportation System (MTS).

While this is a challenging operating environment, it is analogous to other challenges we faced throughout our history. The U.S. Coast Guard manages and mitigates risk in the maritime environment everyday along the nation’s coastline and around the globe. Led by the talented women and men of the U.S. Coast Guard – our active, reserve, civilian, and auxiliary members – and enabled by our intelligence, innovation, and partnerships, we will manage and mitigate risks in cyberspace.

Semper Paratus

Admiral Karl L. Schultz



Threats from cybersecurity continue to evolve rapidly. Since the 2015 strategy, evolving technology has empowered users with sophisticated tools to increase productivity; meanwhile, cyber attacks on the same technology have continued to evolve in tandem. As the backbone of the United States’ economy, the Marine Transportation System (MTS) is a prime target for malicious cyber actors who seek to disrupt our supply chain.




39 seconds

Every 39 seconds a hacker attacks, on average 2,244 times per day.



$3.86 million

was the average cost of a data breach in 2020.



36 billion

records were exposed by data breaches in the first half of 2020.



207 days

is the average time it took to identify a breach in 2020.



280 days

was the average lifecycle of a breach.



$10.5 trillion

the amount that damage related to cyber crime is projected to hit annually by 2025.




25,000 miles of coastal and inland waterways, serving 361 ports, 124 shipyards, over 3,500 maritime facilities, 20,000 bridges, 50,000 Federal aids to navigation, and 95,000 miles of shoreline that interconnect with critical highways, railways, airports, and pipelines, and undersea cables carrying 99% of U.S. communications abroad.



$5.4 trillion

Approximately $5.4 trillion dollars flows through the MTS, constituting about 25% of the United States' gross domestic product.




of U.S. imports enter and exports exit by ship.




major operational technology cyber-attacks occurred in the marine industry in 2020.




Today's Realities


Cyber attacks against the United States (U.S.) are one of the most significant threats to our economic and military power since World War II. The events of the last five years, including the exploitation of U.S. Coast Guard networks and information, attacks on maritime critical infrastructure, and adversarial efforts to undermine our democratic processes, reinforce that cyberspace is a contested domain. This Outlook updates the 2015 Cyber Strategy to ensure U.S. Coast Guard readiness to conduct all missions in a contested cyberspace, to secure the maritime transportation sector through a rules-based international order, and to identify and combat adversary activity in and through cyberspace. Working in close collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), our government partners, foreign allies, and the maritime industry, we will protect the Marine Transportation System (MTS) from threats delivered in and through cyberspace and hold accountable those who would do our nation harm.

USCG and Cyberspace Operations


There is no strategic objective the U.S. Coast Guard can adequately meet – or operational mission the U.S. Coast Guard can fully perform – without a robust and comprehensive cyber capability.

Coast Guard Cyber Command protects the Coast Guard’s portion of the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) through Defensive Cyberspace Operations in order to prevent and/or limit adversarial movement within our internal networks. DCO are passive and active defense missions that protect data, networks, cyberspace-enabled devices, and other designated systems, by defeating imminent or ongoing malicious cyberspace activity.

Commanders may conduct Cyber Effects Operations (CEO) in and through cyberspace to deny or degrade our adversaries’ ability to plan, fun, communicate, or execute operations of their own.

Modeled as a deployable specialized force, the Coast Guard Cyber Protection Team (CPT) is able to deploy worldwide to proactively engage the Marine segment of the Transportation Critical Infrastructure Sector to counter advanced cyber threats and respond to emerging cyber incidents. CPT executes preventative and response activities by Hunting for adversaries, Clearing systems and networks, Hardening defenses and assisting in implementing best practices, and Assessing vulnerabilities and readiness.

The Maritime Cyber Readiness Branch (MCRB) is a specialized team within CGCYBER that fuses Marine Safety and Cyber expertise. MCRB was established to lead the effort to blend these once isolated areas of expertise, and is focused on raising the competency, capabilities and consistency of Coast Guard oversight of MTS cybersecurity.

MTS Cyber Subject Matter Experts assist in the implementation of policies, plans, procedures, and exercises that impact the marine environment, port security, or marine transportation when there is a cyber nexus. The Specialists also monitor hazards and cybersecurity-related executive orders, acts, regulations, laws, and Coast Guard policy related to the safety and security of the MTS.

MTS in Cyberspace


The MTS is a globally connected, integrated, and dynamic commerce network that forms the backbone of the U.S. economy. It is comprised of over 25,000 miles of coastal and inland waters and rivers serving 361 ports. In times of crisis, the MTS enables the rapid deployment of military forces and U.S. power projection. A safe and secure MTS enhances American competitiveness, advances trade, generates capital, grows our economy, and strengthens our national security. The ease of moving cargo and people on the waterways within our borders and beyond the coasts, fuels the nation’s economic and strategic competitive advantage with a lower environmental impact than other methods. The MTS is foundational to America’s vital strategic interests.



The MTS is a complex, interconnected network of information, sensors, and infrastructure that has developed over time to promote the efficient transport of goods and services around the globe. The IT/OT vital to increasing the efficiency and transparency of the MTS also create complex interdependencies, vulnerabilities, and risks.



Secure, resilient information technology and operational technology networks support all missions. In today’s contested cyberspace, the U.S. Coast Guard must defend and operate the U.S. Coast Guard Enterprise Mission Platform (EMP), our portion of the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN), including all U.S. Coast Guard technology, to thwart adversary interference and posture our forces for mission success.



The U.S. Coast Guard will employ frameworks, standards, and best practices in prevention and response activities to identify and manage cyber risks to the MTS. Within ports, the U.S. Coast Guard, through our Captains of the Port (COTP), will lead governance by promoting cyber risk management, accountability, and the development and implementation of unified response plans. U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence will provide characterization and awareness of cyber actors and their capabilities that hold the MTS at risk. Deployable cyber forces will stand ready to augment field commanders with subject matter expertise, assessment and incident response capabilities, as well as critical infrastructure support in the identification and mitigation of cyber risk.





Projecting advanced cyberspace capabilities in and through the operating environment, alongside traditional U.S. Coast Guard capabilities, enables the service to fight and win across all domains. The U.S. Coast Guard will embed cyber planning in our traditional missions, plan and execute cyberspace operations that combine the service’s unique authorities, capabilities, and workforce to deliver mission success. Through our role in DHS and the DOD’s Joint Force, we will execute operations through the law enforcement and military spectrums to impose costs on criminal actors or nation state adversaries.

Ensuring Long Term Success (Key Enablers)



The U.S. Coast Guard must continue to leverage and invest in key enablers to achieve enduring success in cyberspace. We will be resolute and focused on ensuring that these enablers underpin our efforts across all strategic priorities as we continue to mature our cyberspace capabilities.






Today’s cyberspace is markedly more complex than ever before, posing novel threats to our national security and economic strength and stability. Since the publication of the 2015 Coast Guard Cyber Strategy, we have seen the emergence of a contested global cyberspace influenced by the convergence and acceleration of technology and the return to Great Power Competition. Attacks on the confidentiality and availability of information have been commoditized, significantly lowering barriers to entry. Attacks on information integrity have been used to undermine public trust in institutions and sow discord. Simultaneously, the revelation of highly sophisticated attacks have exposed new vulnerabilities across the physical and digital supply chain, further expanding the scope of risks to the secure exchange of information which enables our economy and supports our national security. Complex interconnected industries and critical infrastructure, like the MTS, are particularly susceptible to the potentially devastating effects of a cyber attack.

For more information, please contact HQS-SMB-CG-791-CyberspaceForces@uscg.mil.