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Nevada Guard, university partner to beef up cybersecurity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Thomas Cox,
  • 152nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

RENO, Nev. – The 152nd Communications Flight (CF), Nevada Air National Guard, and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Cyber Club are partnering to evolve each organization’s cybersecurity skills.

“Being able to work with some of the smartest and most competent cyber hackers in the country puts us in a position to develop our skills in a way that very few organizations can,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Bruce, 152 CF cyber transport technician.

In June 2020, UNR was designated as a “Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense” by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The cyber club’s “Red Team” has also been distinguished among the top 10 out of hundreds of teams nationwide for the last eight consecutive National Cyber League competitions.

Many of these students assisted in developing the Nevada Cyber Range (NCR), an immense virtual platform capable of emulating real-world enterprise networks and allowing for a broad scope of training scenarios.

“The goal of collaborating with UNR is to develop what is called ‘Purple Team operations,’ while utilizing the NCR,” said Bruce. “This is where both sides work together to actively develop each other’s skills, research and develop new techniques and tools and practice for real-world response scenarios.”

The scenarios the NCR can run range from denial of service attacks, corporate espionage, cyber terrorism, insider threats and ransomware.

This year, President Biden published an executive order stating cybersecurity requires more than just government action. “The private sector must adapt to the continuously changing threat environment, ensure its products are built and operate securely, and partner with the federal government to foster a more secure cyberspace,” said Biden.

“Working with UNR and their highly skilled staff and students allows us access to technology and training opportunities that we just can’t find in most places,” said Bruce. “If we hope to stand a chance in the future fight, we need to prioritize training of our members on advanced tactics, techniques and procedures.”