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New York Gov. Hochul Appoints First Chief Cyber Officer

Colin Ahern, former deputy director of New York City Cyber Command, has accepted the newly created position. He brings years of cybersecurity experience across the government and private sector to the role.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
Shutterstock/lev radin
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has appointed Colin Ahern as the state’s first-ever chief cyber officer, the state announced yesterday.

In the new role, Ahern will lead cross-agency efforts to protect the state from cyber threats and ensure the security, cyber resilience and integrity of the state’s information assets and critical infrastructure.

He will also oversee the state’s newly established Joint Security Operations Center, which was created by Hochul in February. The center looks to address cyber threat detection and incident response through collaboration among state, local and regional governments, critical infrastructure stakeholders and federal partners.

“New York State is taking an aggressive, nation-leading approach to transforming our cybersecurity infrastructure to combat emerging threats and fortify our information assets,” Hochul said in the announcement.

“In an era of increasingly advanced cyber threats, Colin’s proven expertise and experience in the military, the private sector and government will be critical to identifying cyber risks, enhancing our defense systems, preventing attacks and ensuring that New Yorkers and our institutions remain protected,” she added.

Examples of Ahern’s prior experience include serving as first deputy director of New York City Cyber Command and later as acting CISO, where he led the transformation of a small cyber unit into an agency with more than 100 departments and offices.

He also led efforts to create the city’s first-ever cloud-based, zero-trust security environment, which enabled Cyber Command to adjust to remote work requirements during the pandemic, according to the release.

Prior to that, Ahern worked in financial services as a security engineer and cyber threat researcher. He also had an extensive career with the U.S. Army, starting out as an army officer and ending his military career as a company commander at the U.S. Army Cyber Brigade.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve New Yorkers and work with Gov. Hochul and her team to continue to build and enhance our statewide cybersecurity infrastructure. This administration is committed to leading the nation on cybersecurity, and I am so excited to join the front lines of that effort,” Ahern said in the announcement.