North Carolina formalizes cybersecurity task force

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks after a tour of the IBEW local 553 apprentice training program at Durham Technical College on March 2, 2022. (Allison Joyce / AFP / Getty Images)

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper this week formalized a four-year-old cybersecurity response program that draws on state, local and military personnel to react to breaches, ransomware attacks and other incidents.

Cooper on Wednesday signed an executive order officially establishing the North Carolina Joint Cybersecurity Task Force. The program calls on professionals at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, the state Department of Emergency Management, National Guard and cybersecurity officials in local government respond to incidents as they’re unfolding.

“The invasion of Ukraine and the threats of Russian inspired cyberattacks remind us of the cybersecurity threats that already exist every day,” Cooper said in a press release. “It’s more important than ever for us to work together proactively to prevent these crimes and respond quickly when they occur and this Task Force is helping us do that.”

The governor’s order also called on critical-infrastructure operators in the state to work with the task force when necessary and encouraged those entities to disclose major incidents to the state. (President Joe Biden this week signed legislation that requires critical-infrastructure operators to report significant breaches and ransomware payments to the Department of Homeland Security.)

North Carolina’s cyber task force was initially formed in 2018, by then-Chief Risk Officer Maria Thompson, and has continued under her successor, Rob Main. The program was also shortlisted for an award last year from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

In an interview last October, Main told StateScoop that in addition to the task force’s incident-response duties, he wanted to build on that program by drawing up response plans before attacks occur.

“These measures allow the N.C. Department of Information Technology and the Task Force to have a more realistic picture about what is going on around the state to better protect and defend North Carolina,” state CIO Jim Weaver said Wednesday.

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Critical Infrastructure, North Carolina, North Carolina Department of Information Technology, Roy Cooper
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