Each year, the Department of Defense (DOD) conducts Cyber Shield, its largest and longest-running unclassified cyber defense exercise. Service members from the various military branches join their counterparts from allied and partner nations, as well as civilian experts, to develop and maintain defensive cyber forces against network-based attacks. Mark Bowling, Chief Risk, Security, and Information Security Officer at ExtraHop, trained with a unit from the Arkansas Air National Guard, the 223rd Cyber Operations Squadron, for this year’s exercise in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“You Should Be Sending Your CISO to Cyber Shield”
Bowling acted as the network owner in the exercise and worked alongside the blue team during multiple simulated incidents over the course of a week. One benefit to this accelerated timeline, according to participants, was the ability to debrief with the red team after each simulation and put lessons learned into immediate practice in the next exercise.
Another perk for cyberwarriors is the rare opportunity to collaborate with their counterparts across the country and from around the world. “The overall training is always excellent, but the knowledge the team members gain from working together is often the most beneficial aspect of Cyber Shield,” says Lt. Col. Brian Dodd, cybersecurity defense team leader for Cyber Shield 2023.
The yearly exercise is a boon for civilian participants, too. “Any non-profit, any non-governmental organization, any civilian agency, or any corporation would be foolish to not want to participate in Cyber Shield,” says Bowling. “You should be sending your CISO to Cyber Shield. You should be sending your SOC manager to Cyber Shield. And the lessons learned from Cyber Shield should be communicated to every corporate board out there, so they understand both the threat and the solution.”
Bowling also noted the value in understanding how cyber defenders could and should use Reveal(x) alongside other tools. The real-world situations granted insight into how ExtraHop can improve its solutions to “help the war fighters execute their mission better,” he says.
Watch the recap video below to hear what Bowling and other participants had to say about Cyber Shield 2023.