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In an effort to reduce the consequences of cyber-enabled sabotage across critical energy infrastructure systems, the University of Hawaiʻi System and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held CyberStrike: LIGHTS OUT and CyberStrike: NEMESIS training workshops as the last event in the Tech Days of Fall 2023 series.

The training workshops were held in-person at the Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center on October 23–27. The event, which was open to the public, garnered 123 participants from 73 organizations across the state. UH students and faculty attended training sessions on the last day of the event.

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“We wanted this opportunity to help build awareness in the community as well as our next generation, that these are all opportunities that are available to them,” said Alan Ito, IT workforce development lead in the UH Office of the VP for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. “This event also helps support our local organizations in terms of getting additional training that wouldn’t necessarily be available here in Hawaiʻi.

With cyber attacks on the rise worldwide, the importance of such education is critical to operations of industries at all levels. The training workshops enhanced the ability of critical infrastructure sector owners and operators to prepare for a cyber incident impacting operational technology through instruction and hands-on exercises.

“The Cyberstrike session was a great experience as a student because we looked at examples of cyber security attacks that have happened in the real-world,” said Maxen Donate, a UH student who participated in the training. “While working with a group of students and professionals from various tech industries, we were able to have hands-on experience and develop skills that aren’t taught in the classroom.”

“We’re extremely grateful for the University’s hospitality and support for this training,” said Brian Marko, Assistant Director for Exercises, Training and Workforce Development at U.S. DOE‘s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). “A significant part of this training is the contribution to increasing cybersecurity workforce development opportunities and impressing upon the students the opportunities the energy sector in Hawaiʻi has in cybersecurity jobs.”

The training workshops drew from elements of the 2015 and 2016 cyber incidents in Ukraine, and more recent examples of cyber activity impacting infrastructure sectors. Participants worked in teams to gain new insights into advanced cybersecurity risks, threats and solutions.

Collaborators for the event included U.S. DOE, UH System, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and the Hawaiʻi State Office of Homeland Security. DOE‘s CESER office, in collaboration with the Idaho National Laboratory, developed the CyberStrike Training Program.

The Tech Days of Fall 2023 series was a collaboration between UH System and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii to provide students with multiple events, including three career fairs, and other opportunities to focus on and increase awareness of technology and cyber careers and opportunities in Hawaiʻi.

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