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Michigan Launches Volunteer Cybersecurity Corps

Gov. Rick Snyder announces the Cyber Civilian Corps at the 2013 Michigan Cyber Summit.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to tap community expertise to strengthen his state's cybersecurity posture. On Friday, Snyder announced the creation of the Cyber Civilian Corps, a volunteer IT force that would help the state respond to cyber incidents.

The new team of volunteers would work with state IT staff and existing IT resources to create a broader network of cyber-responders. Snyder made the announcement during opening remarks for the 2013 Michigan Cyber Summit, a daylong information security event organized by Michigan state government.
Snyder -- who is co-chair of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) State Cybersecurity Resource Center -- also unveiled a dashboard developed by the NGA to help governors respond to cyber incidents by giving them an overview of their state's security environment.
“What we’re doing is saying, ‘Let’s collect information. Let’s be transparent and accountable on what our cyber activities are,’” he said.
The dashboard is part of the NGA's broader five-point call to action on cybersecurity that urges governors to:
1.     Create a governance and authority structure that prepares administrations to deal with cyber incidents.
2.     Perform regular risk assessments of cybersecurity challenges and resource allocation.
3.     Perform regular threat and vulnerability reviews.
4.     Establish best practices for security procedures and staff operations.
5.     Create a culture of cyber awareness.
Snyder said the dashboard may make it easier for governors to share information about security vulnerabilities, which will help all states strengthen cyberprotection.
“Cyber bad guys ... hope you don’t share what your issues or problems are, because that means other people could be lulled into getting caught,” he said. “Obviously we understand that you have concerns about your business operations, your brand, what your customers may think, and we need to be sensitive to that. But to be successful, this requires a certain level of openness, sharing, and understanding how we have to work together.”

Snyder also touted his state’s proactive cybersecurity stance and cited Michigan’s prior activity in this area. Notable mentions included the state’s partnership with the Merit Network to create the Cyber Range, a wide area network designed to test the state’s cyber-response capabilities; and the creation of a cyber-response strategy document outlining a framework for how the state would respond during future events.