In preparation for upcoming Tuesday’s midterm election, the National Guard will be activating cybersecurity teams in 14 states to assist in keeping election authorities’ networks secure from cyber attacks and from any malicious activities, Politico reported.
“The move is part of a wider effort to ensure the midterms are secure from cybersecurity threats, which have loomed large in recent years since Russian interference operations in 2016,” the outlet added.
During a press conference on Friday, Washington Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh said, “One of the things making a lot of this possible are states that’ve just decided to do it.”
“Not everyone’s doing it, and those that are have invested in cyber talent and cyber missions for years. If you don’t have a cyber unit in your state you’re not in a good position to help them protect elections,” he added.
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The 14 states with National Guard teams on duty on election day are North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Washington, and West Virginia.
Fox News reported:
National Guard officials will work and receive security updates from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the key agency tasked with protecting election infrastructure against cyber threats, according to Politico.
There are 38 total cyber units within the National Guard consisting of over 2,200 personnel working to support state and local officials with cyber issues like network assessments and risk mitigation.
States like North Carolina have “core teams” of 10 cyber personnel, but that number will increase during an election cycle to include federal and emergency management partners.
Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard, said during a virtual briefing Friday that the Tar Heel State has created a Joint Cyber Mission Center composed of National Guard personnel and federal liaisons from CISA and the Department of Homeland Security.
“We will surge during the election to ensure that we have 24-hour coverage throughout this whole process,” Hunt said in the briefing. “We are citizen soldiers, we live in this state, and we do have a vested interest in our state elections as well as our federal elections.”
Hunt added that the unit’s work began before Election Day by conducting vulnerability assessment and penetration tests for local and county agencies. Cyber training was also offered to most of the state’s county election boards.