Cybersecurity and Public Safety

The state and local officials that compose the homeland security and public safety communities must confront all hazards to the public, including those caused by cyber attacks. Their collective role in cybersecurity has three dimensions, each presenting its own challenges. First, criminal investigators and prosecutors are charged with tracking computer crime and convicting perpetrators. Unfortunately, many local jurisdictions lack the proper technical expertise to do so. Second, homeland security advisors, law enforcement officials, and first responders must grapple with real-world effects of significant cyber incidents. Yet in many communities, these stakeholders have not formulated procedures to coordinate a response to cyber emergencies. Third, state agencies and local first responders must protect their own computer systems; they cannot fulfill their duties without communications or access to mission data. A long list of attacks on these entities demonstrate that many remain unprepared to protect critical systems, let alone chase computer criminals or coordinate a response to a destructive cyber attack.