By Spc. Jarod DyeMarch 5, 2018
AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Army National Guard recently added a new unit, the 146th Cyber Support Team. This team is based in Augusta; however, it is part of the larger 146th Cyber Warfare Company from Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
The unit is extremely new, just created in October of 2017, but they are training to become stronger every drill.
"The long-range plan is to integrate the Cyber Team into conducting Department of Defense cyber missions and to work alongside the Computer Network Defense Team in defending the Maine Guard's IT infrastructure," said 2nd Lt. Danielle Ilsey, the team leader of the Cyber Support Team.
With increasing technology being integrated into the Army's daily operation, more opportunities for cyber-attacks have presented themselves.
"I think that it is more important now than ever," said Ilsey. "With advancements in technology come new vulnerabilities. In this day and age, we can hack not only computers and servers but cars and homes."
The team wants Soldiers to know while it is extremely important to keep the Guard's information safe, they must also watch out for themselves.
"Incorporating strong cyber practices needs to be a part of people's daily lives," said Ilsey. "One of the biggest misconceptions about cyber security is that people think, 'Oh, it could never happen to me.'"
There are plenty of things people can do without much knowledge or expertise in the cyber security world to protect themselves.
"The biggest thing I stress to my team is to decrease their social media footprint," said Ilsey. "These are all tools used to hack people every day."
Social media is not the only way to be scammed or hacked.
"The second biggest thing is to not click on links or emails that you do not know," said Ilsey. "That is the easiest way to accidentally download a virus or something else nasty onto your computer without even knowing it."
Part of being a Soldier is always training and being ready for anything that might be tasked to your unit, and even with highly skilled individuals there's always more one can learn.
"Right now we're doing a lot of training," said Staff Sgt. Michael Kinney, the team's lead noncommissioned officer. "We have varying degrees of skill, some of us have a lot of experience with this, some of us not as much. So we're trying to get everyone on the same page."
During drill, these Soldiers are given exercises that test and boost their skills.
"We've been using open source software to learn how to actually hack into other computers, this is the first time in my career I've actually seen it done," said Kinney.
The cyber security industry is growing immensely and there are many applications for the skills these Soldiers are perfecting on the Cyber Support Team.
"On the civilian side, I work in cyber security," said Spc. Mark Pierce, a Cyber Support Team member. "The security aspect is something that is really booming in the information technology career field. A lot of companies are going to look for people who have these skills."
Members of the team have high hopes for its future and place in the National Guard.
"This is something I'm very excited about," said Ilsey. "I'm excited to see where the team goes as well as the future and all the things we can do."