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NC National Guard deploys cybersecurity response force

Spc. Carlos Cirano, a security analyst assigned to the North Carolina National Guard Cyber Security Response Force (CSRF), conducts cyber operations at a city of Roxboro facility in Roxboro, North Carolina, June 18, 2020. The CSRF helped restore city and county computer networks after a cyberattack in late May. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

Spc. Carlos Cirano, a security analyst assigned to the North Carolina National Guard Cyber Security Response Force (CSRF), conducts cyber operations at a city of Roxboro facility in Roxboro, North Carolina, June 18, 2020. The CSRF helped restore city and county computer networks after a cyberattack in late May. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

RALEIGH, N.C. – More than two dozen North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) Soldiers and Airmen deployed in June across North Carolina to help local and state agencies with cyber operations.

They are part of the NCNG Cyber Security Response Force (CSRF), a team of full-time NCNG personnel and Soldiers and Airmen who leave their civilian jobs and deploy as needed for the state and nation.

“We (the NCNG and state and local agencies) have been working together for some time,” said Mark Brighter, information technology security compliance specialist with North Carolina Emergency Management. Other partners include the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and the North Carolina Board of Elections.

Ongoing missions range from repairing local government computer software to protecting digital infrastructure for state elections.

North Carolina Army National Guard (NCARNG) Spc. Carlos Cirano brings civilian skills and education, military training and more than a dozen real-world state active duty deployments to the mission. He worked at local government facilities in Person County and the city of Roxboro to help restore city and county computer networks after a cyber-attack in late May.

It was an active environment as he collaborated with local computer technicians to bring the damaged systems back online.

“You are here to help. You never know what to expect,” said Cirano.

At NCNG Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, members focused on protecting state election computer systems in the CSRF operations room, a hive of keyboards, cables, computers, monitors and communication systems.

Leaders coordinate staffing requirements with state government officials. Soldiers monitor cyberspace for any malicious activities online that may threaten election computer systems.

“It is very challenging; I am always learning something,” said Sgt. Clintonia Crocker, a nodal network operator assigned to the CSRF.

The CSRF is part of the NCNG’s mission to protect North Carolina’s critical infrastructure from all threats.

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