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zvelo’s Head of Cybersecurity Leads Cyber Shield 2021: The Nation’s Largest Unclassified Cyber Defense Exercise
Cyber Shield is a national-level cyber defense exercise which takes place over the course of two weeks each summer. Since 2013, Cyber Shield brings together the top defensive cyber operations talent from the U.S. military to support the defensive cyber readiness training requirements for the National Guard and Reserve. This year, zvelo’s own Head of Cybersecurity, Brad Rhodes, was tapped to lead the entire exercise for Cyber Shield 2021.
Run by the Army National Guard, Cyber Shield is the Department of Defense’s largest unclassified cyber defense exercise, delivering ‘real-world’ training to cyber defenders in computer network internal defensive measures and cyber incident response. Hosted at Camp Williams in Utah, Cyber Shield 2021 drew more than 800 military and civilian cyber defense specialists from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and a host of civilian organizations from government and commercial sectors across the nation.
In addition to being the Head of Cybersecurity at zvelo, Brad Rhodes is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Colorado Army National Guard, and was Exercise Officer-in-Charge for Cyber Shield 2021 — running the entire exercise on behalf of the National Guard Bureau. Like Brad, many of the Guardsmen and Reservists at Cyber Shield hold civilian cybersecurity job roles — arming them with a wealth of technical and cybersecurity expertise to bring to the cyber fight.
Each iteration of Cyber Shield is designed to deliver a unique experience, drawing from current events to place defenders in as close to real-world events as possible on the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE) range. Cyber Shield ups the realism factor by placing defensive cyber teams into an incident response (IR) assisting a civilian organization which had already been compromised. From SolarWinds Orion supply chain attack, to the Colonial Pipeline, and the recent Kaseya ransomware incidents, there was no shortage of high profile cyber incidents to draw from for this year’s exercise.
“Cyber Shield is truly a team effort across 40 States and Territories, ” Rhodes explained. “Our goal for this year’s event was to get the teams directly into IR while the Malicious Cyber Actors (MCAs) were still conducting activities in the compromised network. Our Opposing Force (Red Team) had incredible tricks up their sleeves that kept the defenders guessing — just like in real life.”
As many of the Guardsmen and Reservists at Cyber Shield hold civilian cybersecurity job roles, it creates a direct cross pollination of experience and skills. In other words, participants receive crucial training that improves readiness for both their military and civilian work roles in cybersecurity.
“I want to thank zvelo for supporting my continued service. Having the support of the company, as well as Jeff Finn and the leadership team behind me, played a key role in facilitating the success of Cyber Shield 2021. The same goes for all employers of Guardsmen and Reservists. I really appreciate the time you allow for your employees to be part of this amazing event,” Rhodes said.