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The National Guard Takes on Hackers

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The National Guard is accustomed to serving in a wide variety of roles under governors direction, and protecting against cyberattacks is no exception.

The U.S. National Guard is increasingly being viewed as a prime resource to protect against cyberattacks.

Credit: Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine/South Carolina National Guard Public Affairs

Governors, legislators, and other organizations are increasingly pushing to use the National Guard to help address the issue of cybersecurity.

In a recent State of the States speech, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper raised the issue, saying "as the nation develops resiliency to cyberattacks, the Guard should be mobilized to support federal and state efforts to protect networks and respond to incidents."

The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 16, 2013, includes provisions requiring the Defense Department to assess the cybersecurity capabilities of the Guard and consult with governors to help understand the states' cybersecurity needs and what role the Guard can play in meeting them. The Cyber Warrior Act, a bill introduced by eight U.S. senators last March, would have established "cybersecurity civil support teams" within the Guard that could be called up by governors as needed.

Several states already have found roles for the Guard in bolstering their cybersecurity posture, beginning with Washington, which created Guard units centered around cybersecurity after realizing that many of its Guard members also worked for companies such as Google, Verizon, and Microsoft. Other states that have created cybersecurity-focused Guard units include Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, Utah, and Rhode Island.

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