Kansas forms cybersecurity task force

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (Mark Reinstein / Corbis / Getty Images)

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly this week created a cybersecurity task force with the aim of protecting the state from an increasingly fierce barrage of cyberattacks. 

The group is tasked with developing a “comprehensive plan” to protect the state’s networks and digital services. Kelly on Tuesday called the work “critical” to protecting residents’ privacy, economic activity and safety.

The group’s 15 members include the state chief information technology officer, a role currently held by DeAngela Burns-Wallace; the state’s chief information security officer, Jeff Maxon; and other top state officials and local government representatives.

The task force arrives as the software publisher Kaseya rebooted its servers Monday after a week of disruption to its private- and public-sector customers caused by a recent and far-reaching ransomware attack.

The Kansas group’s duties include sharing best practices by working with the cybersecurity industry and other governments, identifying ways to improve the state’s cybersecurity practices and developing a “framework” for coordinated information-sharing, incident response and testing. The group is required to submit a report with recommendations to the governor within 90 days, with a final report to follow by Dec. 5.

Other states have formed similar task forces in recent months to improve their cybersecurity, such as Maryland, where last April National Guard units teamed up with technology officials to protect critical services, such as the state’s unemployment benefits portal. State officials said at the time Maryland was the first state to create such a cybersecurity operation in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also in April, a cross-industry cybersecurity task force issued a report with sweeping recommendations on how to fight ransomware. The report’s 48 recommendations included an advisement for the U.S. to adopt a “whole-of-government” campaign against ransomware that includes joint task forces, response and recovery funds and industry-led threat-intelligence sharing. 

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cyberattack, cybersecurity, Kansas, Laura Kelly, ransomware, task force
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