As cyber threats continue to grow and evolve, the National Guard continues to respond by enhancing training and equipping highly skilled forces.
It is no different here in Connecticut, where the Connecticut National Guard looks to fill its cyber ranks through a mix of talented professionals who already work in the field on the civilian side, while highlighting the incredible opportunities available to those interested in obtaining a Cyber MOS.
One of the Guardsmen responsible for helping Connecticut be part of this key capability is 1st Lt. Tyler Sams. Sams serves the Connecticut National Guard in two capacities – he serves as the state’s Cyber Warfare Project Manager Monday through Friday, and as the 1-102nd Infantry Regiment’s Automation Officer (otherwise known as an, “S-6”) on his drill weekends.
“There is a critical shortage of trained cyber professionals, so entering (this field) has some amazing prospects,” Sams said. “Obviously there are certain eligibility requirements that go with work of this nature, but plenty of training opportunities will be available to reinforce the skills necessary to be successful.”
Sam’s’ full-time job entails standing up Connecticut’s Cyber Warfare Company and continuing to fill the ranks of the Defense Cyber Operations team. The DCO’s job is to defend and maintain the CTNG network, while conducting incident response and malicious software, or malware, analysis.
“After the dust has settled from an active cyber threat, the DCO’s job is to determine what sort of malware was used and how it proliferated through the network,” Sams said. “A large part of the DCO’s job is to conduct analysis, forensics and scripting. It really is very intriguing investigative work.”
Over the last several months, the DCO has participated in regional and nationwide cyber operations. In April, a team travelled to Utah to partake in Cyber Shield and then travelled to Massachusetts for Cyber Yankee in June. The goal behind both exercises was (in a joint environment alongside civilian agencies_ to best integrate the National Guard’s response efforts in the event of a cyberattack.
The Cyber Warfare Company’s primary goal is to serve in the role of penetration testing – exploiting weaknesses in networks that will assist the DCO in its duties.
And Sams knows a little about this. He is a certified penetration tester and exploit developer – certifications that are not easy to come by.
“Penetration testers are trained to think like the enemy and use the same tactics to replicate real life attacks,” Sams said. “They hack systems, identify weaknesses, and fix them before someone else can exploit them.”
In his spare time, he hunts for, “bug bounties,” by testing new web applications and software for exploits so vendors can fix them.
Sams believes the growing field of cyber warfare has unlimited potential, and is excited to be part of the team responsible for setting Connecticut up for success.
“Not only can I serve my country, but I can do it in a field I am passionate about,” Sams said. “Being able to help shape Connecticut’s portion of the cyber community is a true honor, and I hope others who share my passion join this field.”
Does joining Connecticut’s Cyber Team interest you? Positions are available for Officers, Warrant Officers and Enlisted Soldiers. Contact the Public Affairs Office at (860)524-4858.