National Governors Association Makes Cybersecurity Its Newest Focus

Every year, the chair of the bipartisan political group focuses on a singular issue. This year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to bring his state's cybersecurity know-how to a wider audience.

Terry McAuliffe has helped his home state embrace technology and security issues. Now he wants to share with the rest of the country.

The Democratic Virginia governor, who is the 2016-17 chair for the National Governors Association (NGA), made cybersecurity his primary initiative for the coming year, under the moniker “Meet the Threat: States Confront the Cyber Challenge.”

The focus is a bit narrower than the prior year’s initiative—Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s “States: Finding Solutions, Improving Lives“—but the issue is no less serious or widespread. In comments reported by Dark Reading, McAuliffe noted that his state had suffered 53 million cyberattacks in 2016 alone—roughly 4 every seconds.

“It’s the Governor’s responsibility to keep their citizens safe,” he said at NGA’s 2016 Summer Meeting earlier this month. “We have to protect our businesses and protect people’s personal information.”

In a Medium post, McAuliffe noted that his focus on cybersecurity issues as chair is an outgrowth of work he was already doing with NGA’s Resource Center for State Cybersecurity, as well as on his own initiatives in Virginia, including the Virginia Cyber Security Commission, which he created through an executive order.

“I know firsthand that to confront the ever-growing and sophisticated challenge of cyber-attacks, government leaders must take a comprehensive approach to identify and implement solutions,” he wrote.

Based on what he’s learned about the issue, the governor hopes to get his state and other early adopters of cybersecurity tactics, such as Michigan and Washington, to share their knowledge on issues like implementing cybersecurity in different industry sectors and boosting technology education.

“We’re seeing great success in our Commonwealth, and there is more to come,” McAuliffe added. “The aim of my cybersecurity initiative is to replicate the work we have done in Virginia, helping other states to protect their assets and citizens from cyber threats. We will focus on how cybersecurity affects all sectors of state government, including health care, education, workforce and economic development, critical infrastructure, and public safety.”

McAuliffe will host a variety of regional summits on technology issues, culminating in the National Summit on State Cybersecurity in Virginia.

More info, including NGA’s cybersecurity resources, is available on its website.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the newest chair of the National Governors Association. (U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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