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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. ^

On the road, Trump’s jobs promises cheered

President Donald Trump hit the road Friday to deliver a pep talk to American workers in South Carolina, resurrecting the jobs-building promises that powered his election victory and pledging anew to unleash the power of the American spirit. But back in Washington, this week s divisive tone continued:

The White House distanced itself from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out Trump s aggressive immigration policy.

Concluding weeks of bitter debates, Scott Pruitt was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, giving Trump an eager partner to fulfill his pledge to increase the use of fossil fuels much to the chagrin of the nation s environmental groups and alternative-energy boosters.

Trump s national security team remained incomplete, but retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, whose family has deep roots in Long Beach, traveled to South Carolina with the White House team aboard Air Force One. Trump tweeted Kellogg, serving as the acting national security adviser, is very much in play for the permanent role, along with three others.

Trump also tweeted: The FAKENEWS media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! Trump s social-media outburst came a day after he forcefully defended his administration and jousted with the press during a marathon White House news conference. But the president, clearly enjoying his return to the kind of cheering crowds that fueled his months-long campaign, took a more upbeat tack in South Carolina.

We love our workers and we are going to protect our workers, Trump declared at a Boeing plant where the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. We are going to fight for jobs. We are going to fight for our families, he said in a reprise of the America First message from his campaign.

The new president toured a 787-10 still under construction and, before leaving, sat in the pilot s seat of a completed airplane painted in contrasting shades of blue that formed the backdrop for his remarks. Some 5,000 employees and others inside a hangar greeted him with chants of USA, USA. The president, who owns an airplane but now travels exclusively on government aircraft, praised the Boeing jetliner as an amazing piece of art.

As your president I m going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and to put our great people back to work, he said. This is our mantra: Buy American and hire American.


Trump, returning to the confident theme of his march to the White House, said: America is going to start winning again, winning like never before. Trump is expected to stick to the theme today when he holds a big rally in central Florida.

Immigration debate

The president s vow to toughen enforcement of immigration laws returned to the spotlight Friday, a day after the president promised to sign an executive order next week that would include a new travel ban that would stand up to the kind of legal challenges that blocked his first try. Municipalities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and Skokie, Illinois, urged a federal judge on Friday to continue blocking aspects of Trump s travel ban. New York City s chief lawyer, Zachary Carter, filed papers in federal court on behalf of nearly three dozen cities. The arguments were submitted days before a judge will decide whether to extend an order that was issued the day after Trump signed the Jan. 27 executive order. Trump s plans included a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.

Carter and senior counsel Susan Greenberg said in the filing that the ban against people from seven predominantly Muslim countries damages the economies and cultures of the cities and harms efforts to keep cities safe, including against terrorists. The White House has said Trump s order is necessary to protect against terrorism and the New York case should be dismissed because the two people on whose behalf it was brought have been allowed into the U.S. Meanwhile, a Homeland Security official said a draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up undocumented people released by the Associated Press was never seriously considered and was not presented to DHS Secretary John Kelly.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. The pushback from administration officials did little to quell outrage over the draft plan. Three Republican governors spoke out against the proposal and numerous Democratic lawmakers denounced it as an overly aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.

Which way, EPA?

Hours after his 52-46 victory in the Senate, former Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt was sworn as EPA chief by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In six years, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits against the department he now helms, challenging such rules as limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and efforts to clean up polluted wastewater under the Clean Water Act.

Pruitt s supporters cheered his confirmation, hailing the 48-year-old Republican lawyer as the ideal pick to roll back environmental regulations they say are a drag on the nation s economy.

EPA has made life hard for families all across America, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The agency has issued punishing regulations that caused many hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. Mr. Pruitt will bring much needed change.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican vote against Pruitt. Two Democrats from states with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels crossed party lines to support Trump s pick, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

DAY 27 | Highlights of the Trump presidency, 3 pm Feb. 17


Trump tweets that he is considering four people, including retired General Keith Kellogg, to serve as national security adviser after being turned down by his first choice to replace ousted Michael Flynn. Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis warns of an “arc of instability” on Europe’s periphery and calls on NATO allies to contribute their fair share to their collective defense. Vice President Mike Pence will speak at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, seeking to soothe allies unnerved by Trump’s statements on Russia and NATO while stressing U.S. commitment to Europe.

Republican Senator John McCain breaks with the reassuring message that U.S. officials visiting Germany are seeking to convey on their debut trip to Europe, saying the Trump administration is in disarray.


Trump promises to boost U.S. manufacturing and punish companies for moving jobs overseas during a visit to a South Carolina Boeing Co plant to celebrate the unveiling of its latest Dreamliner jet.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, trying to reassure allies that Washington is not tilting toward Moscow over the Syrian conflict, tells them the United States backs U.N. efforts for a political solution, officials say.


After nearly a month in power, Trump has yet to unveil major legislation or publicly endorse bills from others, getting Republicans off to a slow start on sweeping reforms they promised on the campaign trail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expects to move soon on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare and also hopes for bipartisan support on an infrastructure investment program.


The White House says there is no plan to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants after the Associated Report said a draft memo discussing that had been circulating within the administration for about two weeks. The Supreme Court will decide three cases in the coming months that could help or hinder Trump’s efforts to increase border security and accelerate deportations.


The Senate approves Trump’s pick for the Environmental Protection Agency, despite objections of Democrats and green groups worried he will gut the agency, as the administration readies executive orders to ease regulation on drillers and miners.


Trump is poised to tap Mike Dubke, a Republican media relations firm owner, to oversee White House communications, media reports say, in a move that could help shore up Trump’s messaging efforts.

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