Cyber warfare is defined as the use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization, specifically the deliberate attack or defense of information systems for strategic or military purposes. If a successful cyberattack were aimed at a power grid, it would have the ability to shut off power and running water. In response to this potential threat, soldiers from all branches of the US military are working with industry experts to simulate an attack and defense of the Northeast power grid and transmission system.
“The transmission system is just a bigger version of what you have in your house,” he said. Jason LaDuke, a corporate CEO of the Electric Enclave. “It’s like a circuit breaker, but a much, much larger system. Electricity that flows into a city therefore flows through a specific line. If you could close those circuit breakers, you would effectively shut off power to the transmission system.”
Reserve Marines from Defensive Cyberspace Operations-Internal Defensive Measures (DCO-IDM) Company B, 6th Communication Battalion, and Marines from the newly created Marine Innovation Unit (MIU), joined their active duty counterparts from 8th Communication with the help of a subject Battalion to Marine Cyber Auxiliary Matter Expert to participate in Exercise Cyber Yankee June 13-17, 2022 at Camp Nett, Connecticut.
“Cyber Yankee is a joint effort by the New England States National Guard. They are trying to build their capabilities and respond to attacks on critical infrastructure in New England while building a partnership between the National Guard, industry partners and the other branches of the U.S. military,” said Lance Cpl. Miles Young, a data systems administrator for Defensive Cyberspace Operations-Internal Defensive Measures (DCO-IDM) Company B, 6th Communication Battalion. “The role of the Marine Corps is to simulate an attacker so the defense can clearly assess how they’re doing.”
During Cyber Yankee, service members are divided into red teams and blue teams, with the Marines participating as a red team. The red team acts as an attacking force while the blue team tries to defend their network.
“This exercise is red against blue. This emulates four different threat actors using the cyber kill chain to reach their end states,” said Master Sgt. Mike McAllister, Cyberspace Operations Chief, Marine Innovation Unit. “Each of the four actors has different end-state goals. They vary in sophistication from a cybercriminal or hacktivist doing nothing more than low-risk access attempts that can be mitigated by very simple security controls, to the most advanced threat actions or using sophisticated means of initiating access with stealthy movement across the board IT enclave and into the operational technology enclave where the critical infrastructure resides.”
Cyber Yankee is currently the only exercise of its kind.
“Training like this event is hard to come by. It is rare and there are no other exercises that bring it to this level. The power grid is a very complex system. It’s essentially one of the largest machines on the planet when you put it all together. This exercise really drives that element of complication because it’s so fast and energetic, similar to a real attack,” LaDuke explained.
The opportunity for Reserve Marines to integrate with Active Component Marines and service members from other branches provided a valuable training experience as the potential cyber warfare threat continues to evolve.
“Marines participate in regional exercises and provide Red Team capabilities to the Joint Force Reserve, National Guards and industry professionals [as they] Interface for regional utilities, which means we’re going in and helping the blue teams refine their playbooks so that when they’re called in for utility support or during cyber nature disasters,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Sarich, Innovation Laboratory Specialist at the Marine Innovation Unit.
MIU’s Reserve Marines also played a key role in Cyber Yankee 2022 and plan to continue supporting similar exercises to bring in additional talent and expertise from the cyber and development support professions. MIU leverages existing talent in the Marine Corps Reserve to meet the challenges of advanced technology to accelerate the development of new skills. MIU hosts programmers who have the potential to bring new skills and deep challenges to the exercise.
“It’s good for us to participate in this exercise because it’s important for us to build our technical capabilities to defend these types of networks, since the critical infrastructure (electricity and water) has very specific systems that most people are familiar with defending.” have no experience,” Young said. “We get the opportunity to sharpen our skills and expand our knowledge.”
Who We Are: The United States Marine Corps Reserve is responsible for providing trained units and qualified individuals to mobilize for active duty during wartime, national emergencies, and crisis or emergency response response. On a daily basis, the Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) is comprised of a talented and dedicated pool of nearly 100,000 Marines capable of expanding the active component in myriad ways to include operational engagements, training support and participation in bi/ multilateral exercises with partner nations and allies and service-level experiments in support of Force Design 2030 and refining new concepts, tactics, techniques and procedures.
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|Date of recording:||06/24/2022|
|Release Date:||06/24/2022 16:05|
|Location:||CAMP NICE, CT, USA|
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