Department participates in cyber breach training

Maine Department of Education recently participated in Cyber Storm V (CSV), a biennial national exercise conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and facilitated by Maine Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Information Technology.

In one day, there are 2.1 million probes against OIT’s network which in some cases are malicious in nature and sometimes involves maine.gov. Due to internet vulnerability, cyber security training is a crucial element to ensure the safety of electronic records at the Maine DOE. Through the simulated breach, Department staff learned how to identify, report and respond to various cyber security scenarios.

The recent exercise featured the first test of Maine’s Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), a framework for collaborating on the response and public communication of a cyber security incident. “Even though it was a cyber-based exercise, what was really tested was every day communication and procedures. Maine State government is better prepared because of this exercise and it was a good start to creating a statewide cyber exercise program,” says MEMA’s Emergency Response Training Coordinator Kevin Rousseau.

Speaking on behalf of the Maine DOE, Transportation and Facilities Specialist Pat Hinckley added, “This exercise improved response readiness for the Department. By implementing emergency procedures and communication protocols, staff and software partners built skills to effectively coordinate, problem solve and communicate an incident across different agencies and organizations. The goal was to protect student and transportation data. CSV was the first time Maine DOE participated in an operations-based functional cyber exercise.”

Emergency managers, cyber security technicians, business stakeholders, and public information officers from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, State Police Fusion Center, and National Guard also participated.

Besides the actual exercise participants and controllers, CSV included observers from the Public Utilities Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1, and the State of Vermont.

Several important lessons were learned, which will be analyzed and documented in the coming months.

For more information contact Maine DOE’s Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.