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    104FW Airmen participate in Cyber Yankee exercise, learn critical skills in cyber deterrence.



    Story by Jerry Hewitt 

    104th Fighter Wing

    By Jay Hewitt, 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts – Members of the 104th Fighter Wing attended the two-week Cyber Yankee exercise from May 6, 2024, to May 17, 2024, at Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

    Cyber Yankee is a joint exercise where members of the Air National Guard, Army National Guard, U.S. Marines, and international participants from eight State Partnership Program nations work with regional civilian corporate entities to test the government’s response to a potential cyber threat that could impact and threaten critical infrastructure and essential services.

    During the exercise, military members, contractors, and civilians were placed into various teams with the role of either attacking, defending, or managing the scenario.

    “As the blue team, our role within the exercise was to work closely with local private corporations in a simulated environment where we could learn and gain access to their systems in order to deter and defend their network against any potential cyber attackers,” said MSgt. Shaun St. Clair, 104th Communications Squadron information assurance non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC). “This exercise is crucial because it enables us to work with and learn from private corporate entities in how to respond to real-life situations that can occur where the Guard would be deployed.”

    The first week of the exercise involved multiple trainings that would help teams better identify and defend against potential threats, which included working directly with civilian entities, learning new software, and becoming familiar with their corporate partner’s unique network systems.

    “Our network within the military is considered an IT network, or information technology,” said Tech. Sgt. Wesley Sobczyk-Moore, 104th Communications Squadron cyber defense operations NCOIC. “The networks that we are going to be deployed to defend in this exercise, however, are considered OT networks, or operational technology, with each corporate entity’s OT network comprised of various systems that operate the plants themselves. This makes any potential infiltration into these networks a big deal.”

    The second week of Cyber Yankee kicked off the actual exercise, with red teams playing the role of the cyber attackers and the orange teams representing the regional corporate entities. As the blue team, the 104th Communications Squadron worked closely with the orange teams to get permissions into their networks to begin identifying potential threats.

    “As soon as the exercise began, our team immediately began to identify suspicious activity on the network, where something goes offline, or malicious looking software being moved around the network,” said St. Clair. “Using what we’ve learned during the first week of the exercise in addition to the knowledge we have through our day-to-day operations, we were successfully able to work together with these utility companies to slow down and stop these adversaries as they attempt to work through the network.”

    This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Cyber Yankee exercise, which included more than 250 participants across military, civilian, contractor, and international partners.

    “As my first time attending this event, I definitely found it to be a great learning experience,” said Sobczyk-Moore. “If anything were to ever happen to our OT systems in Massachusetts, there is a very real chance that the Guard would be activated, so having this knowledge is crucial in the event of a real-world emergency.”

    104FW participants for the 2024 Cyber Yankee exercise included SMSgt William McIsaac, superintendent, plan and resources, MSgt. Shaun St. Clair, information assurance NCOIC, TSgt. Wesley Sobczyk-Moore, cyber defense operations NCOIC, SSgt. Zachary MacIntosh, wing cybersecurity office, and SSgt. Joshua Cox, cyber systems operations.


    Date Taken: 06.11.2024
    Date Posted: 06.11.2024 09:46
    Story ID: 473608

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