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Michigan Plans Cyber-Defense Squads, New Command Center

The Michigan Cyber-Command Center will be directed by the Michigan State Police from within the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

by / October 10, 2011

Michigan state government will develop a cyber-command center and “cyber-defense response teams” as part of a plan to heighten the state’s profile in the computer security industry.

The Michigan Cyber-Command Center will be directed by the Michigan State Police from within the state’s Emergency Operations Center. The cyber-command will be staffed by “a select group of skilled public and private professionals who are highly trained in emergency response to cyber-events,” according to a document outlining the proposal. When activated after a security threat, the command will be tasked with restoring computer systems and minimizing damage. Rapid-response teams will be deployed; these squads will also help deploy secure networks and will have a role in the development of training standards.

The cyber-command will build upon the existing Michigan Intelligence Operations Center, which will continue to handle threat detection and monitoring.

The initiative, called the Michigan Cyber Initiative, was announced late last week in Ypsilanti during the Michigan Cyber Summit. A contingent of Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Howard Schmidt, the White House cyber-security coordinator, were on hand.

Officials pointed to Michigan’s history of participation and innovation in security initiatives as an indicator that the state can take a leadership role. Two years ago Michigan participated in a proof of concept of the federal government’s Einstein traffic monitoring system that was eventually turned over to the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. As a result of its participation in Einstein, Michigan resolved 40 malware incidents affecting 590 state devices.

Michigan also recently appointed a chief security officer, a first-of-its-kind position among state governments that will combine oversight of computer and physical infrastructure. Another asset is that five Michigan colleges and universities are designated by the National Security Agency as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance.

Besides the creation of the new cyber-command center, the state’s cyber-security initiative will also attempt to improve curricula for cyber-security in schools and provide economic development opportunities for the cyber-security industry.

"This initiative underscores Michigan's commitment to cyber-security," said David Behen, Michigan’s CIO, in a statement. "It’s an action plan that offers clear approaches for safeguarding our families, protecting Michigan's infrastructure and shielding our economy."

A full version of the Michigan Cyber Initiative, as well as a new cyber-toolkit, can be found at

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