This week, the state of Arizona opened a brand new Cyber Command Center in Phoenix. The Center’s unveiling is part of a years-long initiative by the state government to make Arizona a leader in cybersecurity. The initiative’s aims have been to improve cybersecurity for all Arizonans, enable government agencies (both state and local) to use and share information securely, develop a prominent cyber industry, and develop a strong cyber workforce with enhanced education. The Center will provide a hub for state and local officials and cybersecurity professionals to develop preventative cybersecurity measures and to quickly respond to cyberattacks and threats. Tim Roemer, Arizona’s Director of Homeland Security & Chief Information Security Officer, said the ability to work together under one roof would be hugely beneficial for the state’s security leaders. When addressing a threat or attack, they will now have the ability to work together in real-time with their work displayed on monitors for the whole team to see.
What’s Driving Arizona’s Cybersecurity Initiative
The Cyber Command Center was created in response to an uptick in attacks on state websites. In September 2021 alone, there were more than 800,000 attempted attacks on government websites in Arizona. Roemer cited school districts as a particularly vulnerable target. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the number of state employees working from home eight-fold, which creates vulnerabilities from computers that are not connected to secure networks.
The new Cyber Command Center should help the state defend against future attacks, so as to safe-guard citizen data. Additionally, the Center’s focus on cybersecurity education for employees and citizens, should help to stop attacks in their earliest possible stage.
While the Center is a state-level organization, Roemer voiced his hope for close collaboration with local governments and would like it to be positioned as a resource available to Arizonans everywhere.
As cybersecurity becomes more and more of a major priority across the country, and as many government employees continue to work from home during Covid-19’s spread, we will see if other state governments follow suit with their own Cyber Command Centers.