As state leaders gather in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the 2011 National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting, one topic on the agenda is cyber-security. Experts in the field will be addressing questions like: What threats in cyber-space do we face? What are the potential ramifications of these cyber-threats? What steps can governments take now?
A NGA news release highlighted the importance of this first meeting since the November 2010 elections. NGA Chair Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said, "We have many challenges to tackle in the days ahead. However, with these challenges come great opportunities, and I look forward to working with fellow governors to find solutions and take necessary actions to put our states on the path to economic recovery."
No doubt, some readers may be surprised that cyber-security is even being given precious time alongside such essential topics as education, job creation and Medicaid. And yet, as cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure have grown in frequency and sophistication over the past few years, the negative impacts to business and government are being felt. If significant attention is not given to current cyber-risks, the potential exists for derailing advances made in digital government over the past decade.
Yesterday, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) issued a new call to action which directs attention to current cyber-security risks. Specifically NASCIO urges government leaders to take steps to know the risks, know the landscape, know your government cyber-assets and know your opportunities.
Protecting critical infrastructure is not an new issue; however, the importance of the topic continues to grow. This DHS video describes some of the public-private partnerships that exist in protecting key infrastructure assets. The National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and sector-specific plans are also available (scroll down to the bottom of the page) to assist governments in taking action.
In Michigan, we have developed a strategic plan that includes both cybers-ecurity and infrastructure appendices as well as tools and newsletters. No doubt, Michigan, like other states, has a ways to go in protecting critical infrastructure. There’s always more to do and areas that require improvement.
One of the hardest parts for technology and business leaders is the moving threat target. The bad guys are getting more organized and better at what they do. In addition new technologies and advances in mobile computing and cloud computing present different security and privacy challenges.
Nevertheless, it is nice to see this cybersecurity topic on the NGA agenda this weekend. This may be the first time that such a high-level cyber-presentation has been given to these new governors. The time for action is now.
Any thoughts on this topic or on protecting critical information and/or government infrastructure?
Follow-up note on 2/28/2011: A video of this NGA session can now be seen at this CSPAN link: