Fort McCoy News Nov. 25, 2016

Wisconsin Cyber 2016 exercise held at McCoy

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Wisconsin Cyber 2016 exercise was held at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy Nov. 14-16.

Attendees included nearly 60 representatives of state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) agencies; National Guard and Air National Guard service members; and private-sector energy, computer, and communication companies from throughout Wisconsin. The three-day exercise required participants to respond to possible cyberattack scenarios that could affect either public or private infrastructure in the state, said Wisconsin Chief Information Officer David Cagigal with the Department of Administration.

The representatives of SLTT agencies are all volunteer information-technology (IT) professionals who are a part of three teams representing northern, southwestern, and southeastern Wisconsin. National Guard and Air National Guard service members served as a fourth team in the exercise, and private-sector representatives formed a fifth team.

Representatives with Wisconsin state, local, territorial, and tribal organizations; Air National Guard and National Guard service members; and private-sector personnel participate in the state’s Cyber 2016 exercise Nov. 15 at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy.
Representatives with Wisconsin state, local, territorial, and tribal
organizations; Air National Guard and National Guard service
members; and private-sector personnel participate in the state's
Cyber 2016 exercise Nov. 15 at the Wisconsin Military Academy at
Fort McCoy.

Cagigal said this was the first exercise that included private-sector representatives.

"This added dimension from the private sector is an enormous contribution to our efforts in Wisconsin in being prepared and being able to respond effectively," Cagigal said. "What we are doing in Wisconsin really isn't different than what is being done nationally. We are awakening to the fact that we can't do this in the government lane (alone). We also need to engage the private sector.

"If you think about it for a minute, the government doesn't own the power system, the water system, and others. They don't own all the physical assets that may be jeopardized in the case of an attack, so we need to begin to collaborate with one another (to be ready)," he said.

Cagigal, who's in his fourth year as Wisconsin's chief information officer, said after his first year in the position, the state began to take a harder look at the significance of cyberthreats and attacks. Since then, the teams have been formed statewide and have held exercises for two years.

Many of the representatives on the SLTT teams also receive additional IT certifications and skills through training programs paid for by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security secured by Cagigal's staff.

"They are able to do the training remotely and it's usually a weeklong class," Cagigal said. "An 'ethical hacker' course would be an example."

Also having Guard support in the Wisconsin cyberdefense team has been helpful, Cagigal said.

Master Sgt. Derek Sizer with the 128th Communications Squadron of the Wisconsin Air National Guard adjusts cables used in a local area network during operations at the state's Cyber 2016 exercise Nov. 15 at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy.
Master Sgt. Derek Sizer with the 128th Communications Squadron of
the Wisconsin Air National Guard adjusts cables used in a local area
network during operations at the state's Cyber 2016 exercise Nov. 15
at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy.

"I believe the National Guard and the military in general are ramping up (cyberdefense) significantly," he said. "I have witnessed the growth in the National Guard in building their cyberforce across this country."

Cagigal said Fort McCoy served as a good location to hold the exercise. A similar exercise was held on post in 2015.

"We had people from Bayfield County and other locations from throughout the state (attending), so it was a good place to meet, being in the center of the state of Wisconsin," Cagigal said. "(WMA) is an excellent facility as well."

Future exercises are likely, and the Wisconsin SLTT teams likely will expand from three to six to further integrate cyberdefense abilities across the state.

"We are going to grow in those capacities and capabilities over time," Cagigal said. "Many of us are concerned about a cyberattack. We need to reach a point where we are confident and our processes are mature enough to be able to defend anything thrown at us."

For more information about the Wisconsin Department of Administration, go online to www.doa.state.wi.us. For more information about WMA, go to dma.wi.gov/DMA/about/ng/arng/426thrti or call 608-388-9900.