Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against the Current Cyber Threat Environment

On Thursday, April 14th, the National Governors Association Pandemic and Disaster Response Task Force, co-chaired by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, hosted a discussion on “How States/Territories are Protecting their Critical Infrastructure Against the Current Cyber Threat Environment.”

We heard from Connecticut’s Chief Information Security Officer Jeff Brown and Tennessee’s Chief Information Officer Stephanie Dedmon, on the steps they are taking to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the impact of the current cyber threat environment to potential retaliatory attacks. They discussed the challenges of how to ensure that everyone is staying vigilant of any potential cyber attacks, ensuring that states are auditing the processes they have in place, increasing awareness and providing training, and emphasized the importance of resiliency planning. Ms. Dedmon mentioned that Tennessee has seen an uptick in Russian cyber incidents.

In addition to hearing tangible solutions from states, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers Alex Whitaker, Director of Government Relations, provided an update on the $1 billion cybersecurity grant program, which NGA has advocated for, included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which is designed to help state, local, tribal, and territorial entities improve their cyber posture as well as address cybersecurity threats and risks to their IT systems. Currently, states and territories are awaiting for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to put out the Notice of Funding Opportunity, which will provide more information for states on the funding opportunity and eligibility requirements. The meeting ended with a presentation and discussion on a recent paper titled “A Pathway to Cyber Preparedness and Resilience”.