News Feature | October 10, 2016

States Play Central Role In Thwarting Cyber Attacks

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Governor McAuliffe says states and governors “play a critical role” in the fight against cyber attacks.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a widespread initiative led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to highlight the need for tighter security in the fight against cyber attacks. In its 13th year, NCSAM chose the theme Our Shared Responsibility to emphasize the role every individual plays in creating a safer internet.

“As every one of us, our families and our communities become increasingly connected, it becomes even more critical to practice good cybersecurity habits,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA's executive director. “Each October is the commencement of a new effort to help every digital citizen and business across the globe learn how to take simple security precautions to protect themselves and their personal information and share the responsibility of protecting others online.”

The FBI is one agency working to target the most dangerous and malicious cyber activity — high-level intrusions by state-sponsored hackers and global cyber syndicates — and the most prolific botnets, working collaboratively with domestic and international partners and the private sector.

In testimony before Congress recently, Director James Comey said, “The pervasiveness of the cyber threat is such that the FBI and other intelligence, military, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies across the government view cyber security and cyber attacks as a top priority.”

And that shared responsibility extends to the state level as well.

In a recent keynote address at the first regional summit for his initiative, Meet The Threat: States Confront the Cyber Challenge, National Governors Association (NGA) Chair and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, “The aim of my initiative as NGA chair is to replicate the work we have done in Virginia to best position all states and territories for meeting the cyber threat. I know firsthand from my work in Virginia that governors and states play a critical role in confronting the ever-growing and sophisticated challenge of cyber-attacks.”

The initiative focuses on developing state strategies for strengthening cybersecurity practices as they relate to state IT networks, health care, education, safety, energy, transportation and critical infrastructure, and economic development and the workforce. Nearly 30 states and territories were represented at the summit.

Gov. McAuliffe also challenged his fellow governors to follow his lead in issuing state proclamations declaring October Cybersecurity Awareness Month. “Our aggressive approach to grow our cyber sector is a central part of our work to build a new Virginia economy that is diverse and capable of withstanding the uncertainty of sequestration and federal budget fluctuations,” McAuliffe said.