Cyber Operations (SCY)
The Discipline and the Major
Per existing National Security directives, Cyberspace is “a global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers …common usage of the term also refers to the virtual environment of information and interactions between people.” Cyber Operations is an interdisciplinary major that covers the entire scope of cyberspace and related operations, both technical and non-technical. As such, the Cyber Operations major provides a basic foundation in computer architecture, programming, data structures, networks, internet, database systems, information assurance, cryptography, and forensics. The technical aspects of the program are balanced with additional courses and electives emphasizing applications in areas such as policy, law, ethics, and human factors in cyber operations. After completing the Cyber Operations program at the Naval Academy, future officers can go on to advanced study or possibly assignments with the various military Cyber forces in support of national security.
The Cyber Operations major was designated a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations in 2020.
Midshipmen will participate in hands-on cyber operations beginning third class year and the program culminates in fully immersed cyber operations studies and simulations in the first class year.
Upper class Cyber Operations majors may engage in independent study, participate in summer internships with government organizations such as the National Security Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, or the Naval Research Labs, as well as with industry. Annually, a select group of Cyber Operations majors participate with midshipmen from other majors in the National Security Agency Cyber Exercise (NCX) as part of USNA’s Cyber Security Team (CST). Foreign travel designed to expand awareness of international cyber operations and cyber security may also be possible. All eligible Cyber Operations midshipmen are also processed for Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearances after their 3/C year.
Cyber Operations graduates can be selected into the highly competitive Information Warfare Community (IWC), and are particularly well suited to serve as Cryptologic Warfare Officers conducting Signals Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Cyberspace Operations; Cyber Warfare Engineers developing offensive and defensive cyber capabilities; or Information Professionals operating and defending Navy networks and communication systems. Cyber Security and Cyber Operations are one of the fastest growing industries and fields in the United States. A degree in Cyber Operations can lead to a highly successful career in the Navy and Marine Corps, or in the government and private sectors.
Considerations for those who might be interested in this major
Midshipmen considering the Cyber Operations major should have a strong interest in computer and information technology as it applies to cyberspace, networks, and the use of the internet; performance and aptitude in mathematics, sciences, and in Cyber Security I (SY110) are among the indicators for success in the major. Students will receive a strong foundation working with computers, servers, routers, and other computer equipment, but will also gain awareness of the politics, ethics, legalities of cyber operations, as well as what drives the social aspect of cyber operations. Students who enjoy working with systems of computers, who have an interest in the technical foundation for computer and network security, or who have a systematic way of thinking, have the greatest success in the major. No prior computer programming experience is required to be successful in this major.