Missoula College’s CyberMontana Trains Montana National Guard

MISSOULA – CyberMontana, a newly created statewide cybersecurity resource for Montana based at Missoula College, completed a highly successful cybersecurity incident response training effort with the Montana Army National Guard (MTANG) in early November.

Eight guardsmen participated in the daylong training session, which involved three cyber-attack scenarios tasking soldiers with identifying the extent of the cyber breaches, determining the source of the intrusion and remedying the effects of the attacks.

Training took place through a cloud-based “cyber range,” which simulates a large computer network containing workstations, file servers, web servers, firewalls and cybersecurity management tools.

Tom Gallagher, dean of the University of Montana’s Missoula College, worked for several months with Travis Light, the MTANG cyber defense chief, to provide the incident response training.

“There is a critical need throughout Montana to provide workforce development training – particularly upskilling – for our cybersecurity professionals,” Gallagher said. “Cyber range simulations give learners real-world scenarios to build their response skills using industry-standard software tools. We are very pleased to work with the Montana Army National Guard in this effort and look forward to future collaboration.”

Cyber range simulations involve several elements of typical computer networks, including Windows and Linux workstations and servers. Vendor-specific software programs plan an important role in simulations, notifying trainees of unusual or malicious network activity, indicating the status of monitored network components and analyzing network communications activity.

“Trainees use their cybersecurity knowledge, as well as the insight provided by software tools, to identify, analyze and repair the effects of a network breach,” Gallagher said.

“CyberMontana provided the Montana Army National Guard’s Cyber Defense Team with realistic training scenarios using a robust simulation of an enterprise network environment,” Light said. “Our team gained insight into techniques used by modern adversaries to compromise computer systems and received hands-on experience with cybersecurity tools.”

Funded by the Montana State Legislature during the 2021 session, CyberMontana is a statewide initiative at Missoula College to provide workforce development, cybersecurity awareness and training for businesses and residents of Montana.


Contact: Tom Gallagher, Missoula College dean and professor, 406-243-7899, tom.gallagher@mso.umt.edu