An Inside Look At a CYBERCOM Dress Rehearsal

From NextGov:

During a recent hack attack drill, Cyber Command troops botched an attempt to stop compromised energy machinery from leaking oil — and that was the intention, the Pentagon says.

“We do that because at the point of failure, that’s where learning will occur,” Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, CYBERCOM director of exercises and training, told a small group of reporters.

Last month, in Suffolk, Virginia, Lunday supported the annual “Cyber Guard” practice session with civilians and an all-military “Cyber Flag” session.

Key to both exercises is the nascent “persistent training environment,” or PTE, a closed network with a so-called transport layer that connects players at various locations.

Between June 21 and June 29, CYBERCOM troops in Fort Meade, Maryland, San Antonio, Texas, and overseas locations, among other places, participated in Cyber Flag. In all, 800 U.S. military members and allied partners deployed to the cyber range, organizers said.

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During the previous two weeks, service members had partnered with other U.S. government personnel and industry for Cyber Guard, which is co-sponsored by the Homeland Security Department and FBI.

“We actually had one of the National Laboratories bring in the actual industrial control systems – that were networked, and we brought it through the transport layer into the actual exercise environment,” Lunday said. CYBERCOM members had to defend the machinery from a pretend, live opposing force.

CYBERCOM, when called on by DHS, helps repel incoming cyberattacks of catastrophic consequence.

“Now, this control system could have opened an access gate to a port facility,” while another “operated a machine control for the oil and gas plant, which resulted in the spillage in the scenario,” Lunday said.

Paul Nakasone, commander of the CYBERCOM Cyber National Mission Force, added: ”If you’re there, it’s fascinating because you can actually see when …

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