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    Joint Cyber Task Force, MDNG Assists Howard County During COVID-19

    MDNG Serves Real, Virtual Communities in COVID-19 Response

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Sarah McClanahan | A member of the Maryland National Guard Joint Task Force Cyber poses for a photo April...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Sarah McClanahan 

    Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office

    BALTIMORE — Cyberspace experts in Maryland National Guard are expanding their efforts with IT professionals statewide to address cyber threats seeking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Joint Task Force Cyber, as it’s known, consists of cyber specialists from the MDNG and Maryland Defense Force, working in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Information Technology to assist in protecting websites and other online platforms that provide critical information and resources to the citizens of Maryland.

    Although the cyber federal mission falls under the United States Cyber Command, MDNG capabilities can also be used to augment and support state and local governments during domestic emergencies. Among other things, Maryland cyber experts have been able to help ensure Maryland agencies have the correct measures in place to defeat online attacks.

    Since its activation on March 24, JTF Cyber has evaluated approximately 400 state government IP addresses and websites for vulnerabilities and shared those findings with state officials for action. The state websites that were evaluated provide citizens with essential knowledge, tools and government resources, so it is vital to ensure they function properly and that the information presented is accurate.

    With their state mission accomplished, JTF Cyber began collaborating with Howard County’s Department of Technology and Communication Services in late April to conduct penetration testing, evaluate vulnerabilities and develop solutions before online threats could impact the county’s COVID-19 response.

    “As we continue to leverage security best practices in protecting our governmental digital assets, as well as our citizen’s access to accurate information, we’re excited to be the first county to partner with the National Guard to increase our vigilance,” said Brandee Ganz, Howard County director of DTCS in a statement. “During this critical time, it’s more important than ever to use all assets at our disposal to protect Howard County.”

    The joint task force’s assessment included any Howard County government domain and subdomain. The joint task force methodically tested access points and shared their findings with county officials to give them an idea of what a breach would look like and how it could be prevented.

    “My main responsibility was to use our tool sets to look for and assess vulnerabilities,” explained Tech. Sgt. Evan Jones, 175th Cyberspace Operations Squadron cyber operator and member of JTF Cyber. “We started from a completely external perspective on their web domains and outward facing web connected devices and we were able to give them an idea of what an adversarial actor could do with their current security posture.”

    The members of JTF Cyber are exceptionally capable. In addition to their military training and skills honed while performing the federal mission, MDNG cyber specialists bring tremendous knowledge and experience from their civilian careers, according to Jones.

    “The strength of the Guard is what everyone brings to the table from the private sector,” explains Jones. “We had guys who knew how to build infrastructure, who were penetration testers, or who use data systems.”

    For the cyber professionals supporting the joint task force, helping to support their Howard County partners has been very rewarding.

    “Everybody has been impacted by COVID-19 very differently,” said Jones. “To be able to try and help secure infrastructure that our hometowns depend on has made me really proud to be a part of this mission.”



    Date Taken: 05.13.2020
    Date Posted: 05.14.2020 18:01
    Story ID: 369987
    Location: BALTIMORE, MD, US 

    Web Views: 314
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