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MN Leaders Join Forces to Defend Against Cyber-Attacks

2/27/2017 11:38:09 AM

Minnesota capital dome with computer code behind it.

On Friday, February 24, 2017, Minnesota IT Services met with Minnesota State leaders and policymakers during the Minnesota Cybersecurity Summit. The summit set the stage for leaders from state government and private sector to discuss the current landscape of cybersecurity threats facing Minnesota and our nation as a whole.

MNIT assembled nationally recognized cybersecurity leaders to share their insights as we work together to better secure the State of Minnesota. The summit opened with a keynote address on the “State of the Threat,” followed by a “State of the States” presentation harnessing top experts and research from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and Deloitte Consulting. The day concluded with a bipartisan legislative panel of Minnesota leaders and policymakers, discussing their role and plans to address cybersecurity issues in Minnesota state government. Below is an outline of the event:

Opening Remarks
Thomas Baden, Commissioner and State CIO
Minnesota IT Services

State of the Threat: A Financial Sector Leader’s Perspective
Jason Witty, Executive Vice President and CISO
US Bank

State of the States: A Nation at Risk
Doug Robinson, Executive Director
National Association of State Chief Information Officers

Srini Subramanian, Risk Advisory Services Leader

Securing Minnesota: A Plan to Fill the Gaps
Christopher Buse, Assistant Commissioner and CISO
Minnesota IT Services

Legislative Panel: Helping Policymakers Be Part of the Risk Equation
  • Moderator
    • Doug Robinson, Executive Director
    • National Association of State Chief Information Officers
  • Panelists
    • Senator Michelle Benson
    • Senator Melissa Wiklund
    • Representative John Lesch
    • Representative Jim Nash

Cyber-Threat Landscape

“Minnesota IT Services supports more than 35,000 users and secures the private data of more than 5.5 million Minnesotans. Housing this sensitive information comes with great responsibility. Daily, Minnesota’s perimeter defenses protect against millions of attacks intended to steal data, disrupt government, and conduct illegal operations.”

Thomas Baden, Commissioner and State CIO
Minnesota IT Services

In today’s digital world, cyber-attacks on the government, private sector and individuals have become facts of life. Armed with only a computer, hackers can launch a cyber-attack from anywhere, anytime, in an attempt to steal private data and damage our way of life. To confront this problem, we need everyone’s help. The State of Minnesota’s systems alone are probed for vulnerabilities and attacks are attempted more than 3 million times each day. Fortunately, our state has not yet experienced a major attack that has exposed Minnesotan’s private data. As we defend against these attacks, we are able to glean forensic information pertaining to the attackers’ footprint, patterns and trends. This information shared between government and private sector interests, can be a valuable asset as we all work to protect Minnesotan’s private data.

“Defending the State of Minnesota is a team effort. We all need to be part of a broader cybersecurity ecosystem that shares information across boundaries. As more diverse and increasingly complex attacks happen daily, Minnesota has a greater need for this collaboration than ever before.”

Christopher Buse, Assistant Commissioner and CISO
Minnesota IT Services

The Cost of a Secure Minnesota

The Minnesota Cybersecurity Summit was created with the intent to help inform government leaders of our current cyber-posture and what the State is doing to more effectively manage cyber-risk. MNIT is currently seeking funding to secure our data centers, provide secure IT services and modernize our infrastructure. All of these asks will help to combat increasingly complex cyber-attacks. The proposed funding will aid in:

  • The consolidation of the state’s data center footprint and the building of more robust and sustainable security into standard technology services.
  • Providing more consistent and secure IT services to agencies, particularly small and mid-sized agencies who struggle to defend their systems and data from hackers.
  • Hiring more staff with specialized cybersecurity skills to perform monitoring, remediation, and forensics work.
  • Fund the deployment of sophisticated software to combat increasingly complex cyber-attacks and procure services for continuous security monitoring, penetration tests, and independent security audits.

Key Takeaways

  • Collaboration is essential in protecting Minnesotans from cyber-threats.
  • We must secure Minnesota’s IT systems.
  • A major cyber-attack could jeopardize public safety and significantly disrupt Minnesotans’ daily lives.
  • Minnesota IT Services’ plan to solidify the State’s cyber-defenses must be funded and implemented aggressively.
  • Proper funding for cybersecurity in Minnesota will help:
    • Result in faster incident response times
    • 24*7*365 monitoring of state networks
    • Reduce attack surface for hackers
    • Create a simpler technology footprint to manage
    • Robust security testing of new business systems
  • The cost of doing nothing is too great.

Below are some of the photos from the summit. You can follow the stories from the Cybersecurity Summit on Twitter.

Commissioner Thomas Baden addressing the audience

Jason Witty speaking about cybersecurity in the finacial sector

Christopher Buse speaking about cybersecurity in state government

Christopher Buse speaking about cybersecurity in state government

Minnesota legislative panel discussing cybersecurity



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