ISA Provides Cybersecurity Training to U.S. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen During Cyber Shield 2020

  • September 27, 2020
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

The International Society of Automation (ISA) was honored to support the U.S. National Guard’s defensively focused tactical cybersecurity exercise, Cyber Shield 2020. From 12 September to 27 September, more than 600 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from more than 40 states signed into networks across the U.S. for virtual training designed to sharpen their skills as network defenders.
ISA was proud to provide Cyber Shield 2020 with comprehensive industrial and automation control systems (IACS) cybersecurity training programs, including IACS Cybersecurity Design & Implementation (IC34) and IACS Cybersecurity Operations & Maintenance (IC37). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ISA pivoted quickly to offer these courses to National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in a virtual setting, delivering online instruction and labs based on the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards.

Two ISA Technical instructors for Cyber Shield 2020 give an overview of the next lab. This photo shows industrial control systems (ICS) along the back wall and center table with laptops that provided multiple Virtual Machines VM to complete the Industrial Automation Control System (IACS). During training week, the students virtually accessed the laptops and used these VMs to view the Operator Station’s user interface screens for application status, reviewed engineering logs to discover anomalies, and analyzed network traffic to evaluate the robustness of the environment. Students then hardened the IACS to reduce cyberattack surfaces. Photo credit International Society of Automation.

“This year has presented a number of challenges for Cyber Shield,” said George Battistelli, Cyber Shield 2020 exercise director and chief of the information technology, security, compliance and readiness division for the Army National Guard. “Obviously the big change to the exercise this year is the virtual environment. COVID-19 forced us to go virtual this year. We have had to change some plans, but for the most part, we maintained the same challenging and rewarding exercise that has kept participants coming back each year.”
“Training week is probably one of the highlights of Cyber Shield,” said Col. Teri Williams, officer in charge of Cyber Shield 2020. “We bring in some of the top vendors across the country to provide the training to the individuals. A lot of times the states don’t have the ability to contract some of the real high-end vendors. So this exercise gives us the ability to get Soldiers and Airmen the training that they otherwise would not get in their individual states.”
Cyber Shield is hosted annually by the Army National Guard, with assistance from the Air National Guard. The exercise was conceived in cooperation with industry network owners and law enforcement agency partners to ensure it meets the demands of defending the nation’s at-risk information infrastructures. As a result of this annual exercise, National Guard cyberdefenders are better prepared to stand as another line of defense in the critical warfighting domain of cybersecurity.
This was the fifth year that ISA has participated in Cyber Shield. “ISA training during Cyber Shield helps National Guard Soldiers and Airmen protect our nation’s critical infrastructure. They will be also able to better communicate with automation professionals they encounter when performing their duties,” says Mark Weisner, technical manager for ISA on Cyber Shield 2020.

ISA subject-matter expert on industrial cybersecurity and instructor for Cyber Shield 2020, Wally Magda, speaking at the event. Photo credit International Society of Automation.

For ISA’s training this year, ISA subject-matter expert on industrial cybersecurity, Wally Magda, presented a series concepts supported with labs. Each student had their own real-time virtual access to a complete industrial automation control system from Enterprise network level to the process control level.
“In these uncertain times, cyberattacks are more prevalent than ever. When it comes to protecting critical infrastructure, ISA believes it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the differences between IT and IACS cybersecurity, also known as operational technology (OT) cybersecurity,” says Mary Ramsey, executive director of ISA. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISA was able to pivot efficiently to deliver virtual instruction and labs based on the ISA/IEC 62443 series of industrial cybersecurity standards. ISA is proud to provide industrial cybersecurity training to U.S. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during Cyber Shield for the fifth year running.”

About ISA

The International Society of Automation ( is a non-profit professional association founded in 1945 to create a better world through automation. ISA advances technical competence by connecting the automation community to achieve operational excellence. The organization develops widely-used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.
ISA created the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance ( to advance cybersecurity readiness and awareness in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. The Alliance brings end-user companies, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations together to proactively address growing threats.
ISA owns, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (, an association of non-profit organizations serving as “The Voice of Automation.” Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute ( and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (