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Nevada taking steps to improve cybersecurity

CARSON CITY — Nevada is preparing its first line of defense against cyberattacks.

Nevada Department of Public Safety officials are laying the groundwork for the state’s new Office of Cyber Defense Coordination. The office was created by a bill the Legislature passed this session and championed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. The office is intended to help Nevada prepare and guard against cyberattacks to state government systems and be a resource to government and private-sector companies.

“We want to be seen as a coordination point to where any entity, if it needs help, could call us and we can direct them in the right location,” Nevada Public Safety Department Director James Wright said.

The office, which will be part of the Public Safety Department, will have four employees: a cyberdefense coordinator, an information technology specialist, a management analyst and an executive assistant.

The state will advertise the open positions starting in August and the positions will be available in November, Wright said.

The coordinator will be an administrator who deals with the outside world and navigates state government, Wright said.

The IT specialist will provide technical expertise and be a resource to the coordinator; the analyst will be embedded at the Nevada Threat Assessment Center in Carson City.

The assessment center, also called a fusion center, analyzes potential cyber threats to Nevada, including crime and terrorism.

Placing the new office within the Public Safety Department makes sense, Wright said, given the department’s role in emergency management.

The office has $3.5 million in state funding for the positions and for upgrading state computer systems to guard against cyberattacks.

Partnerships planned

To bolster its cybersecurity efforts, the state is building relationships with outside groups, including the University of Nevada, Reno’s Cybersecurity Center.

The center will operate on the idea that cybersecurity needs a multidisciplinary approach, said Jeff Springer, UNR’s chief information security officer.

“Those guys really treat cyber as a threat, not a technical problem,” Springer said. “It’s that mentality of actually looking at cyber problems as a threat to our infrastructure.”

Springer said it is too early specify how UNR’s center will work with the state office, but he said it could help with outreach and education.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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