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U.S. and Indonesian forces hunt for cybersecurity threats

By Staff Sgt. Katie Gray | 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (Hawaii) | July 29, 2019

JAKARTA, Indonesia— U.S. and Indonesia service members from the Army, Air Force, and Navy finished the third annual Information System and Technology Exchange (ISTX) in a closing ceremony on July 26 in Jakarta.

The exchange falls under the Hawaii National Guard's State Partnership Program and is one of around 22 annual exercises between the country and state. The ISTX is one of the newest initiatives, and aims to share "best practices, assist in cybersecurity doctrine development, and enhance the cybersecurity capabilities to effectively defend and protect critical cyber information infrastructure from malicious virus and cyber intrusions," says Army Capt. Marco Hartanto, the Hawaii State Partnership Program director.

This year, the exercise moved from theory to tactical and foundation-based, and the key theme became cyber forensics, or threat hunting.

In this way the ISTX has two benefits. First, it provides experience and training to an increasingly global world with global problems.

"Cybersecurity has become really important for both governments, for the military and as a whole for society," said Hawaii Air National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Marc Masuno, ISTX subject matter expert. "ISTX was created in order to further [the U.S. and Indonesia's] capabilities in terms of cybersecurity and information technology, and so this was created as a mechanism to collaborate and to share expertise and knowledge with both nations."

Secondly, as nations react to cybersecurity issues such as malware and ransomware, the collaboration meets the goals of a tentative National Guard Bureau future vision. Instead of just state-to-country, the SPP would become multi-state-multi-country, says Capt. Hartanto.

This year's ISTX leveraged interstate and joint service support with the involvement of Missouri Air National Guard members Tech. Sgt. Kirk Koelzer and RockNSM, an open-source cybersecurity platform developed by the Missouri National Guard.

"RockNSM is a project put together by the Missouri Cyber Team initially, and it's now supported through the community," Tech. Sgt. Koelzer said. The ISTX team used the platform because of its ease-of-use and versatility, and the use of the platform in the United States is already trying to bridge the gap between public and private critical infrastructure partners.

Information sharing of this type is vital, Capt. Hartanto said. Staff Sgt. Masuno echoed his sentiment.

"It's very encouraging and inspiring to see them building their capability and also being so willing to share their information and ask questions. It brings me a lot of joy and hope in regards to the cybersecurity landscape overall worldwide," said Staff Sgt. Masuno. "Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and the more that we are all able to build our defenses, the better protected the overall global landscape would be."