Congress: National Guard to Serve as Cyber-Attack First Response

June 11, 2015

Congress held a hearing Wednesday with a panel of defense experts concerning national response to potential cyber-attacks.

On Monday, the military took down its website in a preemptive response to word that hackers were attempting to breach the system. The Syrian Electronic Army took credit for the attack, programming a pop-up upon logging onto the site that read, "Your commanders admit they are training the people they have sent you to die fighting."

In light of this event, the House held a hearing to address how the nation would respond, in the event of a more serious cyber-attack or hack.

Joseph Kirschbaum, member of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said that there are "still a lot of questions," and that the institution has defined no clear protocol for response operations.

He went on to say that there are "a lot of internal duties to work on."

The panel identified the National Guard as the team for first response to a cyber-attack.

"Cyber security is an emerging role, needing a synchronized and holistic approach… cyber defense and cyber protection are emerging roles for the National Guard, as these attacks can be as devastating as a hurricane or a blizzard," said Peter Gaynor, director at the Emergency Management Office of Rhode Island.

Gaynor said the National Guard has already organized itself in anticipation of a hack.

"[In the cyber security effort], the first thing was to develop these teams called ‘cyber disruption teams’ that consist of law enforcement and tech professionals…we’ve written a cyber protection plan, a cyber attack action plan," Gaynor said on Wednesday.

The National Guard is developing measures to handle this situation as they would any other disaster that could fall on continental America.

They are a "defensive and restorative force," Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, Adjutant General at the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, said.