Arizona launches cyber command center to protect government and business

Arizona last fall announced the launch of a “Cyber Command Center”, which will serve as the state’s headquarters for organizing cybersecurity operations. The center will provide a central location for facilitating information sharing and cooperation between cyber experts, government agencies, and private-public partnerships.

At a ceremony hosted at the Department of Public Safety’s Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), Gov. Doug Ducey was joined by leading state officials to celebrate the launch. 

“Cybersecurity is homeland security. Our society is becoming increasingly interconnected through technology, and cybersecurity has become one of the most important issues facing Arizona,” Ducey said. “This new command center will be critical in protecting Arizonans and ensuring our cyber infrastructure remains safe and secure.”

Others in attendance included Tim Roemer, the director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security and the chief information security officer. Roemer, who earlier in his career served in the CIA, led the initiative to launch the center and integrate its mission into homeland security. 

The creation of the center highlights the growing need to protect Arizonans against cyber attacks. Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security reports that, in September alone, they detected 68 million cyber threats and protected Arizona websites from more than 800,000 attacks.

Researchers estimate that data breaches from 2005 to 2020 cost Arizona more than $1.6 billion. Arizona is only one of two states, including New Jersey, that group cybersecurity with homeland security.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce talks business with Tim Roemer 

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry last month hosted a panel with cyber security experts in Arizona. Roemer led the panel and discussed the importance of the new cyber command center, public and private sector partnerships in cyber security, threat information sharing, and investment in cyber threat prevention systems. 

Reflecting on the new Cyber Command Center and Gov. Ducey’s remarks about some of the center’s primary functions, Roemer explained the importance of public and private sector partnerships. 

“We can throw tens of millions and even hundreds of millions of dollars at advanced cyber protection technology and it won’t make a difference without coalition and partnership between business leaders in the private sector and the state government,” Roemer said.

Roemer was asked what businesses should be focussing on to protect against the growing threat of cyber attacks that include email phishing, ransomware, zero-day exploitation, and even password attacks. He said companies should, “Protect their human firewall, invest in their employees, and create a culture of cybersecurity awareness.” 

Roemer stressed the importance of annual cyber security training, examples of which include internal simulated phishing attempts and various kinds of penetration testing that can determine weak points in a company’s digital security perimeter. 

The panel also included David Riza, the security delivery senior manager at Accenture, a company that specializes in business strategy, technology strategy, and operations strategy services. 

Riza was asked about security strategies for different kinds of businesses and corporations and whether some business models are especially vulnerable to cyber threats. 

“Some businesses are bigger targets,” he said. “Government, energy, architecture are a few industries that cyber hackers want to attack. Access to these industries allows hackers to cause real-world physical consequences.”

Stephen Matter

Jacob Salas

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