"A great resource:" National Guard Bureau selects Wisconsin for home of cyber protection team

MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker announced Monday, December 14th that the National Guard Bureau has selected Wisconsin to be the home of a new cyber protection team, to help Wisconsin and the nation defend itself from the ever-present cyber threat.

Governor Walker's Office said this in a statement to FOX6 News:

Information technology exists in almost all of our daily tasks, and the cyber threat poses risks to Wisconsin’s critical infrastructure, transportation systems, power grids, consumers using credit cards, and to individual citizens.

“A National Guard cyber protection team is a great resource and represents an opportunity for Wisconsin and the Midwest to effectively collaborate on cyber defense,” Governor Walker said.  “Our National Guard already has existing relationships with local governments and private industries, and this team will be a critical asset in sharing resources and defending our cyber infrastructure.”

The National Guard Bureau released Wednesday (December 9th) that Wisconsin, in partnership with Illinois, will be one of ten teams throughout the nation. Their goal was to put one in every FEMA region.  The new unit will consist of approximately 40 soldiers split into five teams.

Each of the teams will have different roles and skill sets, as well as a command element.  The mission protection team will partner with existing National Guard computer network defense teams and other government agencies, academic institutions, and industry partners while providing comprehensive risk mitigation for military cyber infrastructure.  A cyber threat emulation team will specialize in simulating the latest in cyber adversary techniques.  The cyber support team will be aimed at providing technical support during exercises.  Other teams will actively hunt down cyber threats to military networks and conduct inspections and reviews after cyber events to provide feedback and lessons learned.

Many of these lessons and defensive techniques will be applicable to state and local government agencies, as well as the private sector.  The entire team will be another asset in the recently released Wisconsin Cyber Disruption Response Strategy, which lays out a framework for identifying attacks, protecting systems, detecting threats, and responding and recovering from cyber disruptions.

Wisconsin also hosts an annual Cybersecurity Summit as a means of sharing resources, best practices and lessons learned across the public and private sectors.  The formation of the cyber protection team means the National Guard will play an even greater role in protecting the state’s cyber infrastructure.  The team will also help meet one of the goals of the state’s Homeland Security Strategy: to enhance our collective ability to gather, receive, analyze, and disseminate information.

“This cyber protection team will increase the state’s ability to approach the issue of cybersecurity from a regional perspective,” said Wisconsin’s Chief Information Officer David Cagigal, from the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Division of Enterprise Technology.

“When the attack comes, it will pay no mind to state lines or boundaries, and it will require a multi-state response,” Cagigal said.  “The collaboration between the National Guard in Wisconsin and Illinois is just a first step.  Public, private, academic and military institutions regionally must all be a part of the solution.”

“One of the greatest strengths of our National Guard is its ability to pair the knowledge, skills, and experience our soldiers have gained in the civilian world with the robust training they receive in the military,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar.  Dunbar is the adjutant general of Wisconsin and also serves as the Governor’s homeland and cybersecurity advisor and chairs the states homeland security council.

“Cyber defense hinges on good cyber hygiene, close partnerships with academic institutions, local governments, and the private sector,” Dunbar added.  “Synchronizing those efforts regionally will play a key role in increasing our overall cybersecurity.”

In addition to serving as the state’s first military responders, the team will be available as a primary Federal Reserve asset.

READ IT: Wisconsin Army National Guard partnering with Illinois for new cyber protection team.