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Arkansas National Guard conducts cyber training exercise

The three-day training course gave participants the opportunity to work within a simulated environment created specifically to assist cyber operators and IT managers with mitigating the risks of a cyber attack. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)

Tech. Sgt. Mark Warren works to maintain operational capabilities for the city water services of a simulated environment during the Cyber Security Incident Response Training exercise at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark. on December 7, 2017.

The three-day training course gave participants the opportunity to work within a simulated environment created specifically to assist cyber operators at IT managers with mitigating the risk of a cyber attack. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)

Tech. Sgt. Mark Warren, a 189th Operations Group, Detachment 1 cyber security manager, instructs a participant during a cyber training exercise, Dec. 7, 2017, at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, North Little Rock, Ark.

The exercise was part of the Cyber Security Incident Response Training in which participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)

Maj. Eroica Waggoner analyzes the coding necessary to maintain operational capabilities for the power grid of a simulated city.

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The 189th Operation Group’s cyber detachment hosted and participated in a joint training exercise event Dec. 5-7, 2017, at Camp Joseph T. Robinson Army National Guard Base, near North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The exercise simulated real-world cyber incident scenarios and prepared the participants to react quickly and accurately to the situations.

The Cyber Security Incident Response training, which is part of a program developed by a civilian entity accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, targeted critical infrastructure within a simulated city, created by Metova Cybercents, and uncovered potential cyber security susceptibilities. The training environment is a new concept within an already established learning curriculum and was designed specifically for this exercise. 

“We know that critical infrastructures are susceptible to a cyber-attack,” said Scott Terry, Associate Divisions Director, at the Texas A&M Engineering Department’s Cyber Readiness Center. “The important role that cyber operators play is so vital, we know we need to help them. The unique training environment helps the participants get some hands-on training that they won’t have the opportunity to get anywhere else.”

Cyber specialists from multiple fields and backgrounds were able to participate in the training. Arkansas businesses, state and city departments, and the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard members joined in the event, strengthening their cyber capabilities. The ability to integrate cyber practices across multiple sectors and platforms is integral to successful cyber security incident response.

“The Arkansas National Guard already has the ability to coordinate, train, assist and advise on anything cyber,” said Maj. Scott Anderson, the 189th OG, Detachment 1, Director of Operations. “If one of the state agencies or co-ops in Arkansas needs help, they are able to go through the emergency management process to request assistance from the National Guard. We work for the governor and the state as well as support our federal mission. All they have to do is ask.”

The training is part of a six-delivery grant cycle. This means that there are very limited courses available for cyber operators to attend. An organization’s ability to find value in the training and promote it within their unit upon completion is key to developing further training opportunities such as this response course. The course, built specifically to meet training requirements within the cyber community is one of several elements of the cyber training regimen that enhances the skills of the Airmen, Soldiers and civilians who are entrusted with protecting the Nation’s critical infrastructure.

“As a whole, building and executing cyber events like this is key to successful cyber operations,” Anderson said. “The class is geared toward people who will benefit seeing this in a controlled environment so they will know how to react in a real-world situation.”

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