Cyber Dawg, the GTA-led, multi-agency security exercise aimed at sharpening technical response to ransomware attacks, has been named as a finalist in the 2020 Annual State IT Recognition Awards. The awards are sponsored by the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) to honor outstanding technology achievements in the public sector. Winners will be announced at NASCIO's annual conference in October.

Held in May 2019 at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Cyber Dawg brought together information security professionals from the departments of Defense, Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Transportation, along with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, the GBI, and GTA. Through a special partnership, the group also welcomed participation from representatives from the Republic of Georgia.

The exercise highlighted the value of practicing live-action cyber scenarios and building connections across agencies and with Georgia National Guard partners.

The exercise format was designed by the Georgia National Guard Cyber Protection Team and incorporated elements of ransomware, replicating actual attacks that have taken place across the nation. GTA's Office of Information Security hosted the event and provided the open source cybersecurity tools used in the exercise. Participants, including Guardsmen, were divided into eight teams - some attackers, some defenders, others playing the part of intel teams, and others maintaining Cyber Dawg's staged IT environment.

For its 2020 awards, NASCIO solicited nominations in 10 categories and sought projects that "showcase the use of information technology to address critical business problems, more easily connect citizens to their government, improve business processes, and create new opportunities that improve the lives of citizens." In response, NASCIO received more than 90 nominations.

NASCIO is the nation's leading resource for state CIOs and a prominent advocate for technology policy at all government levels. Its State IT Recognition Awards are widely considered the most prestigious and sought-after awards presented to state government IT executives.

For a list of all NASCIO State IT Recognition Award finalists, visit the NASCIO website.