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NEWS | Nov. 27, 2023

‘Priority is an Understatement’: Guam Governor attends National Guard Cybersecurity Summit

By Mark Scott, Guam National Guard

Over 100 cybersecurity stakeholders gathered at the University of Guam for the 2024 Central Pacific Cybersecurity Summit, hosted by the Guam National Guard from Nov. 6-7.
Representatives from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, National Guard Bureau, U.S. Cyber Command, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Department of Homeland Security, public utilities, commercial service providers and others, joined Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in the ongoing effort to integrate and bolster cybersecurity protection for the island and nation.
“Over the next two days, we are going to lean on one another, exchange ideas, and use our collective expertise to fortify our island and our region’s ability to respond and recover from a cyber-attack,” said Gov. Leon Guerrero. “To simply say it’s a priority is an understatement. It is mission-critical to our island’s defense and our nation’s defense that we get this done.
In May 2023, Guam experienced 140 mile-per-hour sustained winds from Typhoon Mawar, wiping out communication systems and other utilities across the 200 square mile island. On the same day, a multi-national advisory and Microsoft announced a malicious computer code was discovered in Guam. The attacks were attributed to Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored hacking group that carries out espionage and information gathering for the Chinese government.
Home to over 150,000 U.S. Citizens, Guam is located in “typhoon alley” of the Western Pacific. Guam is also closer to Taiwan than Washington D.C. is to Fort Bliss, making it the westernmost U.S. soil in the Indo-Pacific. Additionally, Guam’s Marianas archipelago is the only U.S. soil to have been captured and occupied by an invading force during WW2. This combination of natural and man-made threats to Guam’s fledgling infrastructure, together with Guam’s isolated location, prompted the Guard and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to bring stakeholders together.
Participants of the summit, the second in an ongoing series, addressed capability gaps, resource procurement, organizational structures, and more. Among the conversations were experts from the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s Innovative Readiness Training program with training opportunities for the civilian community; U.S Coast Guard representatives’ extensive knowledge of Incident Command; and U.S. Cyber Command’s training tools to simulate offensive vs. defensive cyber operations. After two days of the various presentations and discussions, Guam Homeland Security announced a new, CISA-approved Islandwide Cybersecurity Plan.
Lt. Col. Bumjin Park, chief information officer for the Guam Guard, described the importance of interagency cooperation during the summit.
“When we talk about homeland defense and integrated deterrence, it starts with relationships,” said Park. “Yes, we are generating plans and trying to procure much-needed cyber resources. But really, it’s the human element like strong partnerships and well-trained communities, even for regular civilian users at home and at work, that provide a strong front against any adversary.”
In her remarks, Gov. Leon Guerrero echoed the importance of the whole of community approach.
“With so many experts in the room, this integration creates strength that is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Leon Guerrero. “This integration showcases our relationships and unity of effort. And when it comes to defending the island and nation we love and call home, this integration deters. Integrated Deterrence is a watchword over at INDOPACOM, and this is the work we are doing here today.”