The Georgia Technology Authority recently used a simulated cyber attack to build the state's cybersecurity preparedness for real-life events threatening critical systems and infrastructure. GTA joined with state and federal public safety entities and other participants in late October for this Georgia Jack Voltaic 2021 exercise.

The response and recovery exercise presents a simulated cyber attack and then sees participants collaborating to mount a defense. It allows testing of cross-agency cybersecurity readiness. It promotes effective information sharing and coordinated response essential to successful cyber defense.

GTA co-sponsored the event along with the Army Cyber Institute, Georgia Cyber Center, and U.S. Department of Defense. The exercise tests the state's emergency response plans for cyber incidents and assesses recovery abilities for data, connections, transportation, and utilities. And, it fosters strong relationships among the range of entities that share responsibility for cybersecurity.

"These inter-agency tabletop exercises are a crucial complement to other hands-on cyber response exercises," said Georgia's chief information security officer David Allen of GTA. "You get to put your policies and procedures to the test, and you build alignment between agency leaders and cyber incident responders. That alignment is critical if you're facing the real thing. Plus, the exercise promotes necessary collaboration among federal, state, and local government, as well as commercial partners."

Other participants included the Georgia departments of Education, Public Safety, and Transportation, as well as the Georgia Army National Guard and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. From the federal level, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency engaged. And from the private sector, Georgia Power participated.

Developed by the Army Cyber Institute, the Jack Voltaic exercise has been staged in cities and municipalities in recent years to build broad resilience against, and readiness for, cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure. The Army and Department of Defense gain insight into cyber defense capabilities in key locations, and participating entities acquire clearer understanding not just of cybersecurity strengths and gaps, but also how they're to interact with defense partners.