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Michigan Guard, partners practice cyberattack response

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. David Eichaker,
  • Michigan National Guard

GRAYLING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard worked with law enforcement and industry partners to respond jointly to cyberattacks in a Cyber Strike exercise at the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC).

Participants at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center event addressed the potential threat of malware attacks, including ransomware, computer viruses, spyware and Trojan horses.

“This is the inaugural event, and it’s very exciting looking out at all the fighters present here today,” said Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Your skill set is critical for our economy, national defense, societal functions, and absolutely critical for everything cyber teams do, and this investment and your participation is so important to us.”

The Michigan National Guard has participated in small-scale cyber and electronic warfare events, but Cyber Strike focused on replicating a live training environment using 27 key personnel from different organizations on a closed network running a malware application.

“We thought it would be a prime opportunity to bring not just industry people together to participate in a cyber training exercise but to also incorporate other cyber partners,” said Steve Jacobs, an industry liaison partner to the NADWC with Velocity Management Solutions. “We brought in law enforcement, prosecutors, detectives and the Michigan Air National Guard.”

“It’s extremely important that we work together as a team,” said Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich. “We may know the people who live in our local communities, but we don’t have the overall federal resources of the military or federal government at our fingertips. Our National Guard and the infrastructure within the military have assets and resources we don’t have access to.”

Participants at the training event developed a plan to counter the simulated cyberattack while enhancing relationships in a coordinated response.

“The scenario is that there are multiple systems that have been infected with the same software and somebody on the network left malware. We’re trying to identify where it is,” said Air Force Capt. Shannon Bender, assigned to the 272nd Cyber Operations Squadron, 110th Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

“We are collaboratively working with civilian counterparts to stop any threat,” said Bender. “There are analysts working, there is networking, and we have the middle management and upper echelon of command and control all working together. It’s well organized and we would be ready to respond.”

Understanding how to implement a live cyber training scenario while working together is one way the Michigan National Guard prioritizes partnerships.

“If it is a situation that is threatening people in this area, as a team we are stronger together,” said Borkovich. “That’s where the National Guard is extremely important. We have a National Guard, and it’s nice to know that infrastructure protection is there.”