National Guard on Standby for Midterm Election Day

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Cyber units from the National Guard have been supporting several states in the run up to the mid-term elections and are standing by in the event of any incident today, according to reports.

Wisconsin, Washington and Illinois have been confirmed as using the reserves to help improve cyber resilience, but there are likely to be more states doing the same.

In the north-west, the Washington Air National Guard has been supporting the state's Office of the Secretary of State in what has been dubbed a “great partnership” of “outstanding cooperation” by Kenneth Borchers, commander of the 252nd Cyberspace Operation Group, according to Guard News.

The initiative began with a two-week assessment of the relevant IT networks, followed by a similar time frame devoted to making system improvements, and finally a search for any deeper problems.

"We call it the hunt mission. Now that we have situational awareness, we've secured terrain, we're going to do a deep dive and see what we can find,” said Thomas Pries, commander of the 262nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron.

On Friday it was revealed that Wisconsin National Guard cyber-response teams had been put on standby by the governor Scott Walker to assist if any serious incidents arise on election day.

As part-timers, National Guard troops have jobs outside of their role with the reserve military, which means cybersecurity skill levels can sometimes be higher than in parts of the regular forces.

In fact, lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill last year designed to give the Department of Defense greater visibility into cybersecurity skills capabilities in the National Guard, in case it needs to draw upon this reserve in times of crisis.

“Our National Guard is uniquely positioned to recruit and retain some of our best cyber warriors, and this bill would help make sure that our military is taking advantage of this extraordinary talent,” said report co-sponsor, senator Kirsten Gillibrand, at the time.

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