DISA takes over premier cyber defense tool from NSA

By Kashia Simmons / Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
August 7, 2023


Defense Information Systems Agency and National Security Agency officials met in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, July 20, to celebrate the final transition of a critical boundary defense tool for the Department of Defense.

SHARKSEER officially transitioned from NSA on June 30, marking the beginning of a new era in cybersecurity for the DOD Information Network, as DISA assumes responsibility for the program's operations and management.

“DODIN is a no-fail mission, so many are dependent on this success,” said Catherine Aucella, NSA executive director. “Thank you to DISA for taking this mission and keeping it going.”
Photo of Catherine Aucella, NSA executive director 
Catherine Aucella, NSA executive director, shares remarks at the SHARKSEER transition to DISA celebration in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, July 20.


SHARKSEER is a system of commercial, government and open-source systems that actively detects, alerts and blocks malicious, suspected or anomalous network traffic through automated and analyst-driven blocking mechanisms. The program was developed and engineered by the NSA in 2015 and was developed as an adaptive platform, capable of quickly integrating new technologies wherever SHARKSEER systems are deployed.

DISA has been an active partner in SHARKSEER since the beginning and was designated as the transition organization for the program in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

"The fact that NSA and DISA were able to work together over the past four years to successfully transition the SHARKSEER program from one agency to another – not a common action or request – with minimal breaks in service is a testament to this relationship,” said James L. Cody, NSA Cross Access Front End Solutions chief."
Photo of James L. Cody, NSA Chief
James L. Cody, NSA Cross Access Front End Solutions chief, shares remarks at the SHARKSEER transition to DISA celebration in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, July 20.


There have been multiple DISA employees who have supported SHARKSEER over the years to lead up to this day, said Olanrewaju J. Bucknor, DISA SHARKSEER program engineer, who’s worked on the program for three years. Bucknor explained that NSA remains an integral partner in SHARKSEER, providing software and applications within the environment.

“Ensuring the sustainability and functionality of the SHARKSEER DODIN Boundary Cyber Defense systems ensures all DOD mission partners have a dynamic internet facing protective shield from known and emerging adversarial cyber threats,” Cody said.

SHARKSEER complements existing defense-in-depth capabilities of DISA Global's defensive cyber operations mission by providing an orchestrated, behavioral analytic platform capable of actively blocking suspicious or potentially malicious objects. SHARKSEER also provides unique threat data content to inform other defensive systems for mitigation.

“Geographically deploying the SHARKSEER capability at the 10 DISA-managed internet access points to monitor traffic provides an unprecedented level of visibility to the warfighter supporting the DOD cyber network defense incident response mission,” said Alexis Grayson, DISA SHARKSEER program manager.

DISA will continue to develop and evolve SHARKSEER systems, with plans to add multifactor authentication, transition to a zero-trust model and utilize more cloud-based security solutions to improve scalability, flexibility and centralized management among other capabilities, Grayson said.

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