States activate National Guard cyber units for US midterm elections

National Guard cyber units activated in Washington, Illinois, and, more recently, Wisconsin.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

At least three US states have activated and put National Guard cyber-security units on standby for midterm elections. The three states are Washington, Illinois, and, more recently, Wisconsin.

According to officials, these cyber-security teams will be prepared to assist state election officials in the event of a cyber-security incident during the elections.

Illinois officials have activated National Guard cyber units last month, while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did the same on Friday for his state.

Also: These 10 US states are at the highest risk for election hacking TechRepublic

"Wisconsin voters should feel confident that the Wisconsin National Guard's team is ready if needed to provide assistance on Election Day," said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard. "The governor's executive order simply allows us to deploy those resources quickly."

Speaking to ABC News, Maj. Joy Staab of the Wisconsin National Guard said that Wisconsin is just one of the many US states that have called on the National Guard to help out with cyber-security.

The first to do so was Washington, which activated its National Guard cyber units over the summer, and used the Guard's cyber-security experts to test election systems and train elections officials.

"The Guard has been amazing to work with, helping us to test our systems and helping us to strengthen our security," said Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

After tomorrow's elections, Washington's National Guard cyber unit will also carry out assessments of the state's public utilities, military defense systems, and even the energy delivery system in Antarctica.

Not all states' National Guard units have cyber-security teams. This spring, US lawmakers introduced a bill that would support the creation of National Guard cyber units in all states.

The US National Guard is part of the US military reserve force and is formed from US citizens or permanent residents, with or without prior military experience. National Guard members hold civilian jobs and participate in the Guard's activities only when called upon. This can allow the National Guard to recruit highly-trained cyber-security experts from many areas of the cyber-security private sector, without impeding those individuals' ability to advance their careers.

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