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Zero One: States Woo Cybersecurity Pros

SAN FRANCISCO — On Valentine s Day, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking at RSA Conference 2017[1] in San Francisco, courted cybersecurity pros to live and work in the state known for lovers. His overtures, though, belie a serious problem. State governments lack enough cybersecurity pros to battle hackers who ve put states in their crosshairs.

My whole initiative as chairman of the [National Governors Association] is cybersecurity, because we at the state level collectively have more data than the federal government, McAuliffe said. State governments store a bounty of valuable data, such as state tax returns, healthcare records and driver s license information. Add to this Virginia s vast military installations The Pentagon in Arlington, CIA in Langley, FBI Academy in Quantico, Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and it s no surprise Virginia faced some 86 million cyberattacks last year, averaging three every second.

The attacks are so enormous, McAuliffe said. They re trying to shut down our 911 emergency call centers, they re [trying to steal] our hospital data. Out of necessity, Virginia has taken the vanguard in cybersecurity, but other states are falling behind. South Carolina and Utah, for instance, have already had serious breaches, McAuliffe said.

We have probably 10 to 15 states in America that have done what they need to do with protocols and have put us in a very good position, McAuliffe said. We have about maybe 10 to 15 states that are doing an ok job. The remaining 20 really haven t done much.

Related: Zero One: Are You Ready for AI?[2]

Unfortunately, cybersecurity laggards impact others, given that states share providers. Hackers can attack a cybersecurity-focused state such as Virginia by going through the backdoor of, say, a healthcare provider that has been infiltrated in a state with poor cybersecurity.

We are only as strong as our weakest link, McAuliffe said. McAuliffe said he would like to see a nationwide framework, even a federal law and policy to protect data. The goal is to raise cybersecurity practices for all 50 states.

Unfortunately due to, I say, partisan politics, you can t get the congress to agree, so we re having to do that at the state level, McAuliffe said. That s frustrating. Virginia offers many state programs to attract and nurture cybersecurity talent. For example, Virginia boasts cyber-camps for children, a training program for veterans, and student scholarships in exchange for service You work for the state a couple of years, I ll pay for your education, McAuliffe said. Virginia s community colleges and universities also offer cybersecurity tracks.

Related: Zero One: Cybersecurity, a Business Challenge[3]

Nevertheless, the hard-fought battle against hackers wages on as Virginia and other states try to grow their cybersecurity ranks. Virginia currently has 36,000 cybersecurity job openings with a starting annual salary of $88,000.

Just two weeks ago in Virginia, a foreign actor tried to get my personal data from the state, McAuliffe said, adding, We had the Anthem breach [in 2015]. Three of my five children had their standard information taken. My secretary of Veterans Affairs, a retired four-star admiral, had his fingerprints, everything taken from him.

Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, big data, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is based in Silicon Valley. You can reach him at .[4]


  1. ^ RSA Conference 2017 (
  2. ^ Zero One: Are You Ready for AI? (
  3. ^ Zero One: Cybersecurity, a Business Challenge (
  4. ^

GUEST COLUMNIST: The reserved table

Last Tuesday I went by the Veterans Office in the courthouse to return a file concerning the Veterans War Memorial but found the VA office closed. Instead, I ran into Mayor Bailey, who was getting in some lunch-time exercise. He said they would be back around 1:00 p.m. I had to pick up bird seed at Co-op for Mom between then and 1:00 so when my brother called and asked to meet him at Medical Center for lunch, I agreed.

I arrived at the same time as a small group and their table next to ours was obviously reserved. Their food was immediately delivered. Wow. I like that idea. The young couple with the small daughter must have placed that order earlier. That s what I need to do next time. They were all excitedly talking, laughing, and eating while John and I poured over the Home Search magazine.


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Putin Sheds Light on Foreign Security Services’ Activity in Russia

MOSCOW (Sputnik) He said that the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2016 prevented the activities of 53 staff employees and 386 agents.

“Operative information shows that the activity of foreign special services in Russia does not decrease. Last year, the activity of 53 staff employees and 386 foreign intelligence agents was terminated,” Putin said.

“It’s important to neutralize the attempts of foreign special services to gain access to classified data, first of all, with regard to military-technical potential of our country,” he emphasized.

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