WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan met virtually with New Hampshire Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Woody Groton, who helped organize the annual Cyber Yankee cybersecurity training exercise that concluded on Friday.
This year, the two-week exercise brought together all New England states’ National Guards, as well as local, state, and federal officials to simulate a response to fictitious potential cyberattacks on media outlets and critical infrastructure facilities. Although the national-level exercise was canceled this year due to the pandemic, the region’s exercise was still a successful training event. Senator Hassan spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Groton about how this year’s exercise went, and ways that Congress can further support federal, state, and local cybersecurity.
“We’ve seen firsthand in New Hampshire how cyberattacks harm schools and communities, and across the country, we’re seeing cyberattacks on hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Hassan. “The National Guard can play a critical role in helping to prevent cyberattacks, as well as responding to them. I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear from Lieutenant Colonel Groton about the impressive efforts of National Guard members during this year’s exercise. As I continue to focus on ways to strengthen collaboration between local, state, and federal governments on cybersecurity, it was also helpful to discuss with Lieutenant Colonel Groton what I’m working on in Congress to support the National Guard’s cybersecurity efforts.”
Senator Hassan is continuing to push for a bipartisan amendment that she introduced in the annual defense bill that would support the National Guard’s role in helping state and local governments improve their cybersecurity infrastructure. Right now, the National Guard is limited in how it can support state efforts to improve their cyber defenses, and the Senators’ amendment would make clear that the National Guard is authorized to provide cyber support services to states and localities. Senator Hassan successfully pushed for this year’s annual defense bill to include her bipartisan amendment to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position in every state.
After ransomware attacks hit Strafford County and Sunapee School District in New Hampshire last year, Senator Hassan met with officials to discuss what more the federal government can do to help protect against these attacks. Senator Hassan also joined the New Hampshire National Guard for last year’s Cyber Yankee exercise.