March 1, 2004 By Government Technology
She anticipates similar results from a countywide wireless network currently under construction. The integrated voice, data and video network's primary mission is public safety. Police and fire departments throughout Cook County will rely on it to access and exchange critical information. However, O'Leary also expects the new network to give mobile workers, such as county building inspectors, wireless access to GIS images and other data.
"Our motto is 'do it once and do it right,'" said O'Leary. That approach continues to serve O'Leary and Cook County residents well.
-- Steve Towns, editor
William F. Pelgrin
Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination
New York State
William Pelgrin is New York's virus, worm and malicious code exterminator. He monitors state networks for suspicious cyber-activities, coordinates how data on the state's critical infrastructure is collected and maintained, and leads and coordinates preparation for cyber-attacks.
Pelgrin created the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MSISAC), with no formal blueprint or carefully orchestrated strategic plan. The MSISAC -- a clearing-house for governments to exchange intelligence about high-tech terrorists -- was established in January 2003 with 10 states and now includes 46 member states.
"Our homeland security director brought the 10 northeast states together from a homeland security perspective, and asked me to speak on the cyber and critical infrastructure side," Pelgrin told Government Technology last year when the MSISAC was just getting started. "At that meeting I said, 'Why don't we start sharing information? Why don't we tear down the walls and start doing something instead of just talking about it?'"
The goal is to recruit all 50 states to join the MSISAC and create a centrally coordinated mechanism for sharing important security intelligence and information between states. It can also serve as a critical contact point between states and the federal government.
Pelgrin chairs the Public/Private Sector Cyber Security Workgroup, part of the New York State Cyber Security Task Force established by Gov. George Pataki in March 2002. Prior to assuming his cyber-security role in September 2002, Pelgrin directed the state's Office for Technology, managing the office's growth from a small, policy-oriented task force into an agency with more than 600 employees.
His current mission springs from heightened security concerns following 9/11. Pelgrin said the tragedy led him to evaluate what he most wanted to do. "In over 20 years of government service in the state of New York, it has always boiled down to the impact I can make," he added. "The bottom line is always how many people can I touch and make things better for. And then I try to surround myself with the best people who have that same philosophy."
In Pelgrin's view, it became crucial after 9/11 to improve cyber-security and prepare for events that threaten both the cyber and physical infrastructure. In his current position, Pelgrin works directly to achieve this in New York state. Through collaboration and information sharing, he helps ensure that lessons learned can assist other states and even other countries.
On that front, Pelgrin views avoiding complacency as one of government's biggest challenges. "Post-9/11, the paradigm shifted," he said. "In the past, government generally did a really good job in responding to and recovering from disasters, whether natural or man-made. We usually lacked resources on the prevention and detection side. In my opinion, to recover and respond is always more expensive than to prevent and detect."
Changing the culture, Pelgrin said, is the only way to ensure long-term security. For this reason, he is working to engineer cultural change in state government, in the vendor community and even among citizens -- mostly through online public education. "Cyber-vigilance," he said, "needs to become as much second nature
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