Nevada Governor Signs Bill to Create Office of Cyber Defense Coordination

With the stroke of a pen, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval codified a new state agency focused on meeting cybersecurity threats.

by / June 6, 2017
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (center) signs legislation creating the Office of Cyber Defense Coordination within the Department of Public Safety June 2. Gov. Brian Sandoval's Office

In a flurry of legislative approvals June 2, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval added his signature to Assembly Bill 471, which formally stands up the Office of Cyber Defense Coordination within the Department of Public Safety. The move makes Nevada one of the latest states trying to shape its cybersecurity destiny with an office meant to coordinate and respond to the myriad threats circulating the Internet.

The governor’s signature on the bill followed a unanimous vote in the Senate and a nearly unanimous vote in the House, with 40 yea votes and two abstentions. Like many similarly focused agencies in surrounding states, the Nevada cybersecurity office is part of a larger effort to identify and negate threats posed to the state government and citizen data.

“As I said in my State of the State address, there are now five battlefields in our constant fight for safety and security: land, sea, air, space and cyberspace,” Sandoval said in a press release. “I’m proud to create Nevada’s first Cyber Defense Center, which will be tasked with detecting, preventing and responding to attacks. We must remain vigilant and stay ahead of those who seek to steal our private information and endanger our resources.”

In his January 2017 State of the State address, Sandoval put an emphasis on making the state a business powerhouse, pointing to areas like technology, innovation and renewable energy as key to the mission. His approval of the cybersecurity legislation seems in keeping with this spirit.

Under the terms of the recently enacted law, the office would be required to host periodic reviews of state agency systems and identify shortcomings, while proposing standards and guidelines for future mitigation. The office would also be charged with agency performance auditing and the development of training and education programs for state personnel. The law also outlines the appointment of a cybersecurity response team by the yet-to-be-named office administrator.

The consolidation of cybersecurity assets to a central office is not an unusual move at this stage in the IT game. Though the forms of the organizations differ in their authority and structure, the general premise behind them remains the same: protecting state systems and constituent data.

In 2015, New Jersey launched its version of the cybersecurity command center, the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell under Gov. Chris Christie. Similarly, Washington state’s Office of Cybersecurity was created by lawmakers in 2015 to address threats to state networks and the critical infrastructure.  

Georgia, in mid-2015, also took steps to outline a cybercentric organization with the creation of the State Government System Review Board, under the direction of the CIO.

Nevada’s neighboring states have also been very proactive in the cybersecurity arena. California’s Cybersecurity Integration Center, located within the Office of Emergency Services, was established by Gov. Jerry Brown in August of 2015. In March 2017, Idaho lawmakers approves a $90 million deal for the construction of the Cybercore Integration Center on the Idaho National Laboratory campus. The facility will serve as a cybersecurity research, education and training facility.

In the state of Oregon, legislation in the Senate proposes the consolidation of cybersecurity powers under the state CIO, as well as establishing the Oregon Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and the Oregon Cybersecurity Fund.