Preparing for cyber threats

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cyber security personnel recently prepared for worst-case scenarios at an inter-agency effort held in Suffolk.

The annual Cyber Guard event was held at the Department of Defense Joint Staff’s facility in Suffolk. More than 40 organizations from 22 countries gathered for the weeklong event, with more than 700 cyber security personnel from U.S. Cyber Command, the National Guard and Reserves and the intelligence community.

This was the third year Cyber Guard was held at the state-of-the-art Suffolk facility, according to Col. Daniel King, public affairs chief and spokesman for U.S. Cyber Command. Personnel at the facility worked together in teams for simulated threat scenarios to defend against numerous cyber security threats during the week.


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“It takes teams of dedicated, agile and technically adept men and women, working together to defend our critical systems,” King said.

Teams faced simulations ranging from cyber-attacks on power grids to financial sector hacking. Scenarios had power disruptions that left millions of citizens without relief, and some simulations forced officials to declare a state of emergency in the face of civil unrest.

“Cyber Guard provides a very realistic scenario with a thinking and motivated adversary within advanced network systems to challenge teams to the point of failure,” King said. “That is extremely valuable to all of our teams and to our partners, because the next time we face a scenario like Cyber Guard may be the real thing, and you don’t want to be stuck making introductions in the first hours of a critical incident.”

Personnel performed under pressure in time-sensitive simulations that emphasized the importance of training, rather than winning or losing. Teams aimed for efficiency and effectiveness and were assessed on their speed and precision in using real-world techniques. Opposing teams replicated various U.S. infrastructure attacks that are based on real-world possibilities.

The event was also held to promote collaborative cyber security strategies between U.S. agencies, international partners and both private and public operators.

“Knowing who is on your left and right and how they operate is an advantage worth investing in before you are dealing with a crisis,” King said.

He said this year had a 15-percent increase in personnel participation between the organizations compared to previous years.

“Every time we have the chance to come to Suffolk and use these remarkable facilities to train and test, we improve,” he said. “We push ourselves, our teams and our systems to the limits each time we run this exercise, and each time we learn more about how we can do it better and optimize our mission outcomes.”