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:
Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.
During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.
He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.
He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.
Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.
He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.
Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso
Building effective virtual government requires new ideas, innovative thinking and hard work. From cybersecurity to cloud computing to mobile devices, Dan discusses what’s hot and what works in the world of gov tech.