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State Cyber Task Force unveiled in San Diego

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After about a year and a half of planning, the final draft of the California Cyber Task Force Strategy was officially revealed Monday at a joint Cyber Center of Excellence and National Defense Industrial Association event in San Diego.

Some fine-tuning is still needed in the draft’s seven key areas and objectives before it’s disseminated in the community and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.

“A little over a year ago, the Department of Technology and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services got together a mission to come together on behalf of the governor to take leadership in trying to address this important issue,” said Mitchell Medigovich, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

“So we sat down and started mapping out the areas we thought were most important to address, and came up with seven fundamental areas that we wanted to address as a group.”

Those seven subcommittees — which each contain objectives and an action plan — are information sharing, risk mitigation, response and recovery, legislative and funding, high-tech and digital forensics, economic development, and workforce development and education.

More than 100 groups participated in the task force, and increasing collaboration is a key component to the task force’s success. Of the participants that were part of crafting the proposal, 65 percent are government entities, 22 percent industry, 10 percent research and education, in addition to three utilities.

Examples of the objectives were given for two subcommittees. The Economic Development Subcommittee’s four objectives are to strengthen the workforce pipeline; raise awareness and attract investment for the industry; identify, share and incentivize exemplary cyber practices with an emphasis on small businesses; and facilitate and expand research and innovation.

On the closely related but separate Workforce Development and Education Subcommittee, the four objectives are to define standards for classifying state government cybersecurity jobs as no universal language, credentials or ranks exist as it does in health care or academia; develop contextual-based educational curriculum to meet industry workforce demands; develop career pathways for veterans; and align strategic partnerships to create a cybersafe communications infrastructure.

How far ahead is California by making this move in cyberspace?

“I’m hearing from my peers … that California is viewed as a leader in the establishment of this task force and its collaborative approach to addressing this issue,” said Michele Robinson, state chief information security officer.

“There are a couple of other states that have maybe adopted legislation to establish a cybersecurity initiative, but it’s nowhere near the scale that California has.”

Giving the first public glimpse of the proposal to San Diego was no mistake either. With the confluence of military, SPAWAR, startups, telecom, digital health and straight cyber companies as well as an NSA-designated cyberschool of excellence in National University, San Diego has positioned itself as a key industry player on a par with Maryland.

San Diego may even take precedence with its greater mix of public and private industry, compared to Maryland’s high percentage of government-related work. However the final task force shakes out, San Diego companies, groups, government entities and individuals are expected to play a large role in its implementation and success.

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