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Marshall Students Learn To Thwart Cyber Attacks With Help From W.Va. National Guard, Tech Companies

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David Adkins
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard (left), President of Marshall University Brad Smith (center), and Justin Jarrell, CEO of Forge Security (right) signing the partnership.

One of the best ways to prevent cyber attacks is to hire someone to try to hack a system. These realistic training scenarios are called cyber ranges, and Marshall University’s Institute for Cyber Security (ICS) is enlisting Forge Security, a local provider of cyber ranges, and the West Virginia National Guard to simulate these cyber attacks. In a press conference on Marshall’s campus, President of Marshall University Brad Smith said that the West Virginia National Guard will provide on-site personnel to help students with research and training.

”We are collectively working together to build a foundation that will strengthen, protect, and defend against unauthorized cyber attacks,” Smith said.

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David Adkins
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
President of Marshall University Brad Smith

Bill Bisset delivered a message on behalf of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

“As we stand with Ukrainian people and pose crushing sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s regime, we must also continue to secure our country from retaliatory cyber attacks,” Capito wrote. “The better we prepare our defense, the better we’ll be able to continue to benefit from the many technological innovations that touch every aspect of our lives.”

Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, said that cyber attacks have attacked infrastructure on a local level across the nation. “we've seen the pipeline attack, we've seen the water systems being attacked, this ICS training really sets us up to be able to respond to that and try to make sure that we can avoid having those attacks occur in the first place,” Crane said.

“Cybersecurity is not just a military issue, it's an issue for our local state and county governments in all of our industries. It's not just us in uniform that have to respond to it.” said Crane. “We’ve got to prepare all of our young generation [...] to be prepared to help ensure the safety of our networks.”

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David Adkins
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard

Marshall University is utilizing a cyber range platform developed by the international company, Cyberbit. As part of their partnership with Marshall’s ICS, Forge Security provides access to Cyberbit’s cyber range.

Justin Jarrell, CEO of Forge Security, said that giving Marshall access to the cyber range will improve Marshall’s recruiting efforts, which will assist Forge Security and other local businesses.

Jarrell said, “prior to the pandemic, over 80% of all ransomware victims were small to medium sized businesses, and we all know that has significantly increased ever since.”

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David Adkins
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Justin Jarrell, CEO of Forge Security

Marshall’s Institute for Cyber Security gives students studying cyber security hands-on training, while cooperating with corporate and government bodies to address emerging cyber security issues.


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