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Cyber Defense Team Boosts Base Security

Members of the 157th Communications Flight pose for a portrait on July 25, 2017, at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The cyber defense team protects the computer and information assets of Team Pease. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Kayla Rorick)

Members of the 157th Communications Flight pose for a portrait on July 25, 2017, at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The cyber defense team protects the computer and information assets of Team Pease. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Kayla Rorick)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- There are potential threats lurking in every email, on every website and even on a seemingly harmless CD brought in from home.

Sound cyber defense, in this technologically advanced day and age, has become an important facet of security in its own right.

“Think of the physical base defense provided by our security forces Airmen,” said Staff Sgt. Alan J. Dwyer, the 157th Air Refueling Wing cyber operations network administrator. “The cyber defense we provide is another layer of protection for our base resources, focused on computer and information assets.”

With each passing day, week, month and year, cyber threats evolve. Dwyer emphasized the importance of training to adapt right along with them.

“There is always something new to learn,” said Dwyer. “It can be fun to come up with innovative solutions to those hard problems.”

Members of the 157th Communications Flight cyber defense team, including Dwyer, participated in the third annual Cyber Yankee exercise from June 9-17, 2017, at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts.

During the exercise, participants responded to cyber hacker activism and disruptions targeted at the Yankee Games, a notional sporting event which was set to take place in Boston following a contentious bidding process.

“This training allows for our cyber defenders to get real-world experience on current threats in our environment and teaches them to quickly respond and recover in the event of a cyber-attack,” said Master Sgt. Melissa M. Theriault, the 157th CF special missions NCO in charge.

The exercise provided refresher instruction and training on topics such as malware analysis, incident handling, forensics, cyberspace operations, intelligence support, federal partner capabilities and cyber reporting.

In total, there were approximately 140 participants from throughout New England, including Army and Air National Guardsmen, Department of Homeland Security personnel, as well as partners from within the cyber defense industry and state utility companies.

“The best part of doing a regional exercise is the relationships you build with your local utilities and other cyber professionals,” said Theriault.
In the event of a natural disaster in New England or a cyber hacking incident of the public utility systems, those cohesive and familiar relationships could prove to be critical.

“If and when the time comes, we will be ready to work together and respond as effectively as possible,” said Dwyer.

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