From the beginning, National Level Exercise (NLE) 2020 was designed as a series of preparedness activities the two-year cycle to prepare the nation for some of our greatest threats. NLE 2020 focused on cybersecurity and involved a complex, multidimensional attack that reflects the global threat environment. In the scenario, widespread cyberattacks led to significant impacts on critical infrastructure and community lifelines. State and regional play focused in FEMA Region 1 (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) and FEMA Region 9 (CA, AZ, NV). Federal department and agencies focused on participation from their headquarters locations.
Responding to COVID-19
Coordinating the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic became FEMA’s top national priority in March 2020. Accordingly, the FEMA Administrator made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of National Level Exercise (NLE) 2020 as envisioned and planned. The preparedness events already held, including a series of cyber workshops in each of our FEMA Regions conducted in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), have already helped make our nation more resilient.
We also held informational webinars, conducted a national cyber preparedness seminar, facilitated a preparedness discussion among senior Federal officials, and even developed a board game to teach the basics of cybersecurity preparedness to the whole community. Through these efforts, we have already started to identify strengths and areas for improvement in our approach to a cyber incident with physical impacts, which has been the core focus of NLE 2020. Our work has advanced our national readiness and supports the important legislative requirement for a National Level Exercise every two years (6 U.S.C. § 748(b)(3)).
FEMA is working with its state, regional, and interagency partners to preserve the work that has been done, sharing the findings from the preparedness events already held, and looking for opportunities in the future to continue this important work. FEMA remains committed to preparing the nation for the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk, including the cyber threats envisioned in NLE 2020. At this critical point in our nation's history, however, the response to COVID-19 deserves our full focus and attention.
- Cyber Workshops provided opportunities to strengthen relationships among cybersecurity and emergency management professionals.
- Cyber Workshops allowed for meaningful discussions and information sharing on current cyber threats and vulnerabilities, case studies, and the roles of response officials at all levels of government.
- For more information on cybersecurity visit ready.gov/cybersecurity.
Cyber Ready Community Game
Building on the success of the Regional Cyber Workshops, FEMA partnered with cybersecurity experts to develop an engaging strategy board game to explore the dynamics of cyber preparedness.