Our nation, states, communities, corporations and institutions are under attack each and every day; but rather than bombs and bullets our adversaries are using binary ones and zeros.
And, just as it has for more than 380 years, the National Guard is playing a key role our defense.
Cyber Shield 19 from April 5-20 at Camp Atterbury, Ind., sponsored by the Army National Guard, brings together some 800 Army and Air National Guard network defenders and world-class cyber security professionals, industry network owners, an Army Reserve assessment team and federal and state agencies to train the next generation of cyber warriors in this ever changing, dynamic world of electrons and information networks.
"It's a refinement every single year, and next year will be completely different than this year and the year after. It depends on what is the threat environment and what is going on," said George Battistelli, the Army National Guard Cybersecurity Program Manager, Information Technology Strategy Division Chief and the Cyber Shield 19 Exercise Director during an April 9 Pentagon media round table.
"While they're training, they're also building relationships," Battistelli said. The relationships with industry partners, state and federal agencies, and law enforcement are key to effective cyber defense and the National Guard is naturally suited to grow those relationships, he added.
"Part of the goodness of the Guard is that … traditional soldier, who may work at the Department of Public Works or something, in his everyday job and then he drills on the weekend. And so he has the inside knowledge of how that system works," Battistelli said.
The training that Soldier or Airman gets through Cyber Shield 19 and the National Guard adds to his ability to do his civilian job and the training and experience he or she gets at their civilian work adds to the military's cyber capabilities. "And now he's a very valuable asset" in protecting critical infrastructure, Battistelli said.
The exercise provides critical cyber battlefield experience for the members of National Guard's Cyber Protections Teams (CPT), Defensive Cyber Operations Elements (DCOE) and Cyber Mission Assurance Teams (CMAT.) These cyber teams provide critical network defense for the computer networks of our state and local agencies, industry and critical infrastructure.
"We are grossly outnumbered. Even if everyone at the exercise was fully certified and fully trained we still would be outnumbered," said Matt Sannipoli, Stealthwatch Instructor, CISCO. "With this highly connected world we live in the threats are coming from everywhere. So the more ways we can identify those, the better we are able to help create the security that we are all hoping we can get to."
Cyber Shield was conceived to prepare the National Guards' cyber warriors for this challenging and complex cyber battleground.
"The defense strategy talks about critical infrastructure and about being able to survive and succeed in a contested environment," said Col. Teri Williams, Commander, Cyber Shield 19. "We planned for 11 months to create a contested environment with everything from a scenario for the cyber range to creating all the OPFOR injects or attacks that need to happen. These injects are based on the technical and training objectives that we want to accomplish for that year. That's what Cyber Shield is all about."
This is Cyber Shield's twelfth year. No two years have look alike.
"The way cyber works is that it's an environment that every time we get better at defense our adversaries are going to get better at offense," said Keith Owen Wichmann, Cyber Situational Awareness Technical Lead, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University. "We have a thinking offense coming at us. If we don't have a thinking defense protecting us, then we don't have a prayer."
Cyber Shield has a critical training component that brings in industry leading courses and seminars for the participants which is organized into tracks based on the role of the participating cyber team member.
"The first week is training and we bring in some top-notch training. We really try to focus on getting people prepared for cyber defense," said Williams. During the first week of training, Cyber Shield brings in high-tech companies like Microsoft and CISCO. The International Society of Automation (ISA) does infrastructure network training. The SANS Institute does cyber defense training.
"But we also focus on the offensive side. Our belief is that the better that you are trained on the offensive side, the stronger a defender you will be," Williams said. "So we use companies like SpectreOps to come in and give us that offensive training."
Cyber Shield is a premiere unclassified training exercise for cyber defensive operations. And the contributions of interagency and industry partners greatly enhance the war-fighting capability of cyber teams.
"This is an opportunity to bring together the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, the Army Reserves, private sector, federal and state partners, industry, academia, into a setting where we can learn and grow together as a nation," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Burkett, Vice Director of Domestic Operations for the National Guard Bureau during the April 9 Pentagon media round table.
The Cyber warfighting domain is always changing but our National Guard cyber warriors and their interagency and industry partners are always ready for the fight.
For more stories and video reports on Cyber Shield 2019, go to https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/cybershield19