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Tabletop exercise helps lead the way on cybersecurity


(photo by Wanda Tsosie/WA EMD)

Tabletop exercise helps lead the way on cybersecurity

Members of Gov. Jay Inslee’s cabinet and personnel from across the state of Washington joined together on May 9 to conduct a tabletop exercise focusing on the cybersecurity threats that state agencies face.

Altogether, about 80 people gathered in Olympia to attend the Homeland Security Executive Education Seminar, facilitated by the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security Mobile Education Team.  The three-and-a-half-hour seminar provided participants a forum to engage in an open dialogue to address response to a major cyberattack incident in the state of Washington. 

“This is a serious threat, and the governor’s cabinet recognizes this threat and wanted to practice some high level decision making,” said Lit Dudley, the Exercise & Training Section Manager for the Washington Emergency Management Division.


(photo by Wanda Tsosie/WA EMD)

The governor’s cabinet tries to meet quarterly to discuss potential emergencies and disasters, with previous exercises focusing on earthquakes, floods and wildfires. A future exercise will focus on what would happen if a lahar should flow from Mount Rainier.

The Washington Military Department has been leading the way when it comes to helping the state prepare for cybersecurity incidents.

The Washington Emergency Management Division is one of the first in the nation to include cybersecurity threats as an incident annex of the state’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.  This plan is the go-to document for most emergencies that state and local officials will face.

Washington National Guard’s cybersecurity unit also has become a leader in the nation, forging relationships with private industry and local partners, and tasked with finding vulnerabilities in public networks. The unit became the first in the nation to see if it could get into the network of a public utility when the Snohomish County Public Utility District asked for help. It only took 17 minutes to break into the Snohomish PUD’s system. After, the Guard worked with the PUD to improve its security. The Guard also has worked with the Washington State Auditor’s Office, the state Department of Licensing and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, among others, to test for vulnerabilities.

From May 22 to May 24, the Washington Emergency Management Division will help lead a statewide exercise called Cyber Guard Prelude to help prepare the state for a potential cyberattack. The state EOC will be activated on May 24 with agency participation from across the region. The exercise focuses on what would happen if our state were to deal with cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in multiple jurisdictions. How would transportation be disrupted? How would power outages be handled? Is there a potential for mass injuries or casualties?


WA EMD Cybersecurity Program (link)

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Take Action: Ensure your personal password is properly protected (Blog)