NEWS | May 18, 2020

NC National Guard cyber mission continues despite COVID-19

By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan North Carolina National Guard

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) and NC Division of Emergency Management hosted remote “virtual” cybertraining for state, local and tribal government officials May 13 and 15.

More than 100 people from 61 organizations or government agencies shared best practices during two online “virtual” sessions, maintaining critical relationships and cybersecurity skills.

Cybersecurity experts connected via the WebEx videoconferencing application.

“Cybersecurity is serious business,” said Matt Chytka, a retired North Carolina Army National Guard (NCARNG) lieutenant colonel and member of the North Carolina Assessment and Assist Team.

The online sessions were a series of lectures, graphics and practical exercises to improve members’ Cyber Incident Response Plan (CIRP), a wide-ranging cyber incident approach addressing private sector, state, local and tribal governments’ cyber information cooperation and integration.

“We used our contacts from North Carolina Emergency Management, NC Department of Information Technology and Local Government Information Systems Association to invite everyone to the webinar using CISCO WebEx,” said North Carolina Army National Guard Maj. Justin Hillberry, a leader with NCNG’s cyber and information technology team.

Chytka discussed the fundamentals of the CIRP and how each step provides important guidance early during a cyber incident.

“Fast response is critical,” Chytka said.

He breaks down each step, highlighting the need to keep the plan up to date with contact rosters and critical information so any member of the organization can quickly find out what their immediate responsibilities are and who they should report to if there’s a problem.

“Do not put the same person responsible for every problem or they will quickly be overwhelmed,” Chytka said.

At the end of the session, a ‘what if’ scenario tested each member. The responses highlighted the ability of each member to react to a larger, coordinated response.

“The members need opportunities like this to attend training and improve the information-sharing regarding threats,” said Stephen Reeves, associate vice president and chief information security officer of the North Carolina Community College System.

Since 2018, the North Carolina National Guard, NC Emergency Management, and the NC Department of Information Technology have responded to more than 35 cyber incidents in the state and region.