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Center for Applied Cyber Education director takes part in Cyber Exercise

On Sept. 24, Frank Katz, director of the Center for Applied Cyber Education at Georgia Southern, represented the University at Jack Voltaic 3.0, the first all-virtual cyber exercise hosted by the Army Cyber Institute. The exercise simulated a cyber attack in Savannah, and Katz observed the participants’ decisions during the attack to help better educate his cybersecurity students on what to do in similar scenarios.

Before the event, Katz said potential events in the simulation could include cranes at the Savannah ports being shut down, causing participants to have to figure out another way to unload a ship full of containers.

Director of the Center for Applied Cyber Education at Georgia Southern, Frank Katz

“My role is just to observe the exercise, take notes and think of what they’re doing and how it can be used in an academic environment because my goal is to implement this kind of training into our academic program,” said Katz.

In 2016, the Army Cyber Institute executed the first Jack Voltaic, a major city, multi-sector, public-private cyber exercise. It was the first step in building a framework to prepare for, prevent and respond to multi-sector cyber attacks on major cities. The newest version of the exercise will take the current COVID-19 pandemic into consideration.

“We are limited in terms of how we can respond to a cyber security incident because infrastructure is hampered by the fact that people may be out,” Katz said. “People may not be at work. They may have COVID-19 themselves. They may structure the exercise so that simulated characters in the case study are not present, and now participants have to react to that.”

Katz said it’s important for students to get experience with real-world problems like those that will be featured in the simulation because it prepares them for careers in cybersecurity.

“When our students graduate, we often send them to government agencies like the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense,” he said. “Once students get into their careers, they may actually have to be involved, not just in some kind of practice exercise, but in reality when it comes to something like this. This is really good training if we can implement what we learn in the exercise into our coursework.”

The regionally-focused exercise will include commercial, critical infrastructure supporting military deployment and global logistics operations. By conducting Jack Voltaic 3.0, Savannah business leaders and city officials have an opportunity to gain key insights and a better understanding of their respective gaps in incident management for a cyber or cyber-enabled disruption or destructive event. Intrepid Networks is enabling the live mission with communication, coordination and collaboration features designed for real-life incident management and response.

The Jack Voltaic experiment seeks to affect multiple sectors and require a coordinated local, state, federal and commercial response; provide a learning environment that enables participants to gain exposure, develop relationships, train, review critical gaps and shortfalls, and assess their response; conduct a virtual table-top event where both leadership and technical teams communicate and work within and outside their sectors; and commit to concrete, practical improvements to their resiliency and critical infrastructure preparedness.


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