Speaking to the State Emergency Management Agency’s 28th Annual Missouri Emergency Management Conference today, Gov. Jay Nixon announced the Missouri Office of Administration has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a statewide cybersecurity preparedness initiative. The $100,000 grant will bolster the state’s ongoing efforts to strengthen cybersecurity by raising awareness and sharing best practices with local governments, businesses, educational institutions and citizens. “Technology has brought unprecedented convenience, but also new and ever-changing threats to our data and personal information,” said Gov. Nixon. “I’m very proud of the work our team has done to make the state of Missouri a nationally-recognized leader in cybersecurity. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a resource for organizations in both the public and private sectors and further strengthen cybersecurity preparedness across the state.” The Office of Administration will use the grant funds to host a Cybersecurity Summit and engage with stakeholders, including representatives of state and local governments; law enforcement; business; higher education; and K-12 institutions across the state. The key goals of the initiative include:
  • Information Sharing and Awareness, including case studies and information sharing on current and emerging threats and industry best practices;
  • Training and Exercises, with an emphasis on sharing expertise and experience on tools proven most effective in detecting and defending against the growing number of cyber events;
  • Workforce Development, including strategies for educating the current and future cybersecurity workforce;
  • Hardening Critical Infrastructure, such as the electrical grid with an emphasis on ensuring continuity of services; and
  • Incident Response, with an emphasis on swift and effective coordinated response to cyberattacks.
In 2015, the Office of Administration’s Information Technology Services Division was honored with the “Overall Excellence in Cybersecurity Award” at the FireEye Cyber Defense Summit in Washington, D.C. Missouri ITSD was chosen for being a model of cybersecurity awareness, infrastructure and practices. In 2014, Missouri was one of only three states in the nation to receive an A grade from the Center for Digital Government in its annual Digital State Survey, which is conducted every two years to assess state governments’ ability to improve IT systems for better operational outcomes and services to citizens. Gov. Nixon has consistently identified cybersecurity as a key priority in his annual budget recommendations and has also worked to generate additional investment and job creation from companies involved in information technology and cybersecurity. Gov. Nixon has also supported cybersecurity emergency response through the establishment of a Missouri National Guard cyber unit, the premier Defensive Cyberspace Operation (DCO) platform trainer for other National Guard cyber protection teams and active duty components. The MONG cyber unit supports real world DCO missions and are sought after to train various active duty National Guard units. The joint team consists of 25 Soldiers and nine Airmen who participate in exercises such as Cyber Shield, Cyber Guard and various other national cyber exercises. More information about the Cybersecurity Summit will be posted, when available, at cybersecurity.mo.gov. In his remarks to the final SEMA conference he will attend as Governor, Gov. Nixon praised Missouri’s emergency management community for it coordinated efforts responding to 11 federal major disaster declarations during the Governor’s years in office. In all, Gov. Nixon has declared 22 states of emergency to respond to weather conditions. The Governor said his administration has enhanced disaster response capabilities by:
  • Consolidating Missouri’s Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism into SEMA so that state employees charged with planning for man-made disasters work alongside the people who coordinate actual disaster response.
  • Strengthening Missouri’s coordination on disaster response and recovery with faith-based and volunteer organizations through the Missouri Governor’s Faith-Based and Community Service Partnership for Disaster Recovery.
  • Strengthening Missouri National Guard disaster response coordination and preparedness with local communities by training more than 650 soldiers and airmen as trained local liaison officers.
  • Forging strong ties with the National Weather Service and increasing collaboration in advance of storms and on an ongoing basis.