DENVER (CBS4) – Members of the Colorado National Guard spent the weekend in Denver preparing for cyber attacks.
They were joined by guardsmen and guardswomen from four other states at Regis University’s Denver Tech Center campus. There they were challenged to plug up fake cyber attacks created by students and professors.
The process was only an exercise, but the director of the state of Colorado’s network operations and information security told CBS4 at the event that hackers attack the state a staggering 800,000 times every day.
“So we are defending those, but this exercise is making sure we are ready for not only today’s fight but tomorrow’s fight,” said Norman Weeks.
Damaging attacks have happened on the state level already. Montana’s health department revealed that a data breach last summer may have hurt more than a million people, and the hack itself was only discovered in May.
“If you can tie it back to the economic impact to the citizens of Colorado, then you have a tie-in,” Weeks said.
The National Guard sometimes refers to its members who are trained in data security “cyber smoke jumpers.” Members of the team worked with state employees in their weekend drill.
“The potential threats out there today are very sophisticated,” Colorado National Guard spokesman Major Brad Rhodes said.
Some scenarios involved hackers invading in multiple directions at the same time.
“It makes you go, ‘Wow, mind blown! I’ve got to deal with all of those things at one time,’ ” Rhodes said.
In the end, the military learned now is the time to start talking the same language with government personnel.
“Have that common lexicon and be able to talk and start the ball rolling to solve the problem,” Rhodes said.
If there is a major attack on the state’s computers and lives or property are placed in jeopardy, the governor will call up the National Guard and their cyber team.