Michigan governor pushes cyber agenda


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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week unveiled an updated version of his cybersecurity initiative that will guide the state’s efforts in the cybersecurity space – both in protecting the state’s networks and growing the cyber industry in Michigan – over the next four years.

Called Michigan Cyber Initiative 2015, the program builds off a similar initiative first launched in 2011.

The new plans represent “the next steps needed to make Michigan the national leader of innovation, success and security,” Snyder wrote in the project’s introduction.

Of all the nation’s governors, Snyder is perhaps the most likely to push a hard cybersecurity agenda — he served as the chief executive of Gateway computer company before becoming the state’s governor.

Snyder started this initiative shortly after taking office in 2011 and helped the state hit a few key targets in the cybersecurity space, including creating a state Web page dedicated to cyber information, building the Michigan Cyber Command Center, pushing state resources toward luring cybersecurity companies to the state and drafting the Michigan Cyber Disruption Response Strategy.

During a speech last week at the North American International Cyber Summit at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Snyder said that as the world becomes more connected, the need for cybersecurity only increases. That may seem like an obvious statement to most, but Snyder made a point to reference an industry close to the heart of many his state: cars.

“Twenty years from now, your car is going to be driving itself,” he said. “The vehicle will be talking to other vehicles, making decisions on when to stop and when to brake. A hacker could gain access to that system and control a vehicle from the outside. The risks we have today are only going to dramatically increase.”

One thing Snyder has emphasized the importance of civilian involvement in addressing cybersecurity — something he’s helped encourage with the creation of the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps.

This is a group of volunteers from the private sector trained to respond to a cyber attack, similar to how the Army National Guard responds during emergencies. Snyder announced the initiative at the same conference last year and said that within a few months the state will have a few dozen teams in place.

Following his speech, Snyder told reporters it was a matter of time before a significant cyber attack hits the state.

“It’s just a ‘when’ question,” he said, noting the state gets more than 500,000 cyber attacks per day. “That’s the point of us being prepared, and that’s why I’m so proud to say Michigan is a leader in being prepared.”

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cybersecurity, Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan, States, Tech News