Connecting state and local government leaders

Is Your State Prepared for a Cyberattack on Top of a Natural Disaster?


Connecting state and local government leaders

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers released a guide Thursday helping state governments plan for large-scale cyberattacks.

Urging states to devise a resiliency strategy, the Cyber Disruption Response Planning Guide recommends establishing a cyber leadership structure, assessing the risk to state assets, interagency collaboration, and communications contingencies.

A working document, the guide begins by defining resiliency:

The capacity to ensure that all vital public services survive in a crisis

And a cyber disruption, not to be confused with a “fully managed” cyber incident:

A cyber disruption either causes a disaster, or is specifically launched by a perpetrator to coincide with a natural disaster. When a cyber disruption coincides with a natural disaster or is orchestrated with another man-made disaster, first responders, hospitals, industrial partners, government and other responding organizations may be greatly hampered in their ability to respond effectively or optimally.

Planning for such a disruption can be hampered by a number of factors states must remain cognizant of: tight IT budgets, new motivations for doing harm, proactivity on social media, the exponential growth of data generated by new technologies like drones and the Internet of Things, and the state of the IT workforce.

As a result, response planning for disruptions must be far more methodical than with incidents—from the meticulous inventorying of infrastructure, systems and services to the adoption of cyber analytics to the creation of a cyber disruption team.

“Michigan was an early proponent of cyber disruption response planning and collaboration with key state leaders outside of information technology,” said David Behen, Michigan’s CIO and co-chair of NASCIO’s Cybersecurity Committee, in the announcement. “One of the many things we are emphasizing in our NASCIO guidance is collaboration and integration.”

While plan development ultimately falls on the shoulders of the state chief information security officer, partnerships with service providers, utilities and academia are critical—especially where infrastructural interdependencies exist.

Integration with the pre-existing plans of regional actors like fusion centers, which perform cyber analytics and provide intelligence, is also advised in the report.

“With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, NASCIO is focusing on cyber disruption response planning guidance to help states begin to develop an approach that brings together various agencies such as homeland security, law enforcement, emergency management and the National Guard,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO executive director, in the announcement. “Cybersecurity is a team sport and these partners bring the necessary capabilities for responding to a major cyber event that could have dire consequences.”

Download the complete guide here.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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