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Tracer FIRE Exercise Hosted at Georgia Tech to Improve Talent Pipeline

Atlanta, GA

Tracer FIRE (Forensic and Incident Response Exercise) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is a program developed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories to educate and train cyber security incident responders (CSIRs) and analysts in critical skill areas. The program also aims to improve collaboration and teamwork among staff members. Under this program, several hundred CSIRs from the DOE, other U.S. government agencies, and critical infrastructure organizations have been trained. Several events are hosted each year for forensic incident response professionals and students.

On Sept. 6-7, 2018, Sandia National Laboratories and Brendan Saltaformaggio, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, hosted an exercise to provide students a look into how forensic incident response teams operate. Participating in this exercise were 26 students from North Carolina A&T State University, Clark Atlanta University, and Georgia Institute of Technology. The Forensic and Incident Response Exercise program provides students with:

  • A 100% hands-on exercise that reinforces classroom training for forensic and investigative skills oriented towards cyber security analysts.
  • A target rich environment to exercise new collaborative analysis methods and augmented human cognition techniques in a contested cyberspace environment.
  • Exposure to real-world cyber campaigns that utilizes malware to bridge the gap between reality and a synthetic task environment.
  • Tie challenges together in a unified narrative to provide a “big picture” that helps students identify adversary trends and strategies.

Exercises like Tracer Fire allow laboratory technical staff to connect with students that are interested in these areas and see how their current skills align with the needs of the labs. Sandia National Laboratories will continue to host more students to garner interest and address the shortage of qualified staff across the DOE complex, other government agencies, and industry.

Last revised July 14, 2020