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Home : News
NEWS | June 21, 2022

National Guard Soldiers, Airmen Train on Cybersecurity

By Maj. Robert Taylor, Idaho Army National Guard

BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Army National Guard hosted Guard members from seven states June 4-18 for a regional cyber exercise that included assessing the security of a dozen Idaho agencies.

Cyber Discovery provided a week of cybersecurity training for more than 50 Soldiers and Airmen from the National Guard in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. During the second week, teams assessed Idaho Courts, the Idaho Department of Labor and school districts in 10 counties.

“This exercise assesses the level of cybersecurity awareness and implementation across multiple state, local, territorial and tribal agencies throughout Idaho and builds the capability of cyber Soldiers and Airmen in our region,” said Col. Dan Lister, chief of information, Idaho Army National Guard.

The exercise was conducted under the Department of Defense Cyber Innovative Readiness Training program. The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency trained Guard members, who assessed local government agencies’ cybersecurity efforts. Each mission partner received a 200-page report.

“There’s a benefit for our team to have a mutual third party provide an overview of our controls with regard to cybersecurity,” said Jennifer Dvorak, chief information security officer for Idaho Courts. “It helps us understand where to focus our energy.”

Agencies can use the assessments to apply for grants and additional funding for improvements.

Participants who completed the exercise earned a qualification in Cyber Resiliency Review and External Dependencies Management.

“The training from CISA was invaluable to learn how to properly conduct a cyber resiliency assessment,” said Master Sgt. Eric Wilkens, North Dakota Air National Guard. “The value of the training was taking that training and immediately turning around and utilizing it with a mission partner. We were also able to give back to a community partner, which embraces what the National Guard is all about.”

In addition to the exercise, Idaho Army National Guard cyber Soldiers briefed Idaho Technology Services, the information technology directorate for the Office of the Governor, on a recent penetration test. 

“The test itself was unquestionably the most thorough and difficult we’ve endured,” said Jeff Weak, ITS director. “Not only was it the best to date, the report and out-brief were exceptional as well. I appreciate all they did for us, and I look forward to working with the Idaho Army National Guard in the future on some of the remediation actions.”

The assessment took more than a month to complete and saved the state more than $500,000.