Story by LTC Angela King-Sweigart on 09/03/2019HARRISBURG, Pa.-Members of Pennsylvania National Guard's Cyber Defense Team met with Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar to discuss current mutual projects, including election security, in early August during a Pennsylvania State Department orientation of the Pennsylvania National Guard's capabilities and assets which included a tour of Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
"This visit covered a variety of topics," explained Maj. Christine Pierce, defensive cyber operations team chief. "We have been working with multiple Pennsylvania state agencies to provide a variety of services and we were excited to assist the Pennsylvania Department of State with the 2018 midterms as well as other cyber requirements."
Pennsylvania National Guard's Cyber Defense Team provides comprehensive cyber defense services such as: vulnerability assessments, critical infrastructure assessment, penetration testing, and network monitoring. Network monitoring assistance was provided to the Pennsylvania State Department during the 2018 midterm elections.
The team is preparing to assist the Pennsylvania Department of State during the 2020 elections.
"The Pennsylvania National Guard has become an important partner in our work to secure Pennsylvania elections," Secretary Boockvar said. "Their cybersecurity expertise adds yet another defensive tool to the multi-layered security we employ to safeguard the state's voter registration system. Pennsylvanians can be proud that the PA National Guard was the first state unit chosen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for training to do assessments of critical election infrastructure."
National Guard Cyber Defense Teams are domestic/state assets. Governors have the authority to command those forces, just like other National Guard capabilities when in a state status. Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the team have the same qualifications as their civilian counterparts.
The Pennsylvania Guard is one of the most deployed National Guards in the nation and headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. In addition to its federal mission, the Pennsylvania National Guard responds to domestic emergencies, working with its state agency the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and dozens of federal, state and local agencies. The Pennsylvania National Guard maintains a joint operations center at Fort Indiantown Gap staffed by Pennsylvania Guard members 24/7 that support its domestic mission.