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UNR, NV Air National Guard prepare for cyber attacks

 A college student motions towards a graph displayed on a board in a classroom as a military service member looks on.
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Cox
Samuel Gerard, University of Nevada, Reno Cyber Club member briefs members of the 152nd Communications Flight, Nevada Air National Guard, during a training session, October 15, 2021, at UNR’s Nevada Cyber Range.";

UNR’s Cyber Club is partnering with the Nevada Air National Guard to strengthen cyber security tactics. 

When a ransomware attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline this summer, the nation stood at attention. Gas stations reported shortages and drivers rushed to the pumps in panic.

As cyber threats continue to affect the public’s day-to-day, there’s an increasing need to have well-informed cyber security managers. 

Shamik Sengupta is the executive director at UNR’s Cyber Security Center where they’re collaborating with the Nevada Air National Guard.

“We started the conversation about how to really exchange our experiences, our skillsets," Sengupta explained. "Now, we are really trying to look into this as a joint training opportunity.”

Cyber students and Airmen from the 152nd Airlift Wing’s Communications Flight practice offensive and defensive cyber security postures at UNR’s Nevada Cyber Range. It’s a student-developed lab with tools, software and space where they can protect, or even hack each other’s networks.

Tech. Sergeant Thomas Bruce is a Cyber Transport Systems specialist. He says the partnership is helping cyber warfighters exercise their skills.

“We always reference the future fight, what does the future fight look like? We need to have that environment where we can spar in the ring like a boxer would," Bruce said. "Put on the actual gloves and the protective gear, so you don’t actually hurt each other but run through the motions, practice, exercise. It’s different when you’re facing another person.”

In an executive order published this May, President Joe Biden cited the need for Federal Government partnerships with the private sector in protecting the nation from malicious cyber actors.

Lucretia is a multimedia journalist based in Las Vegas.
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