Soon after taking office, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo recognized the importance of cybersecurity and took the first steps to ensure that the security of Rhode Island’s digital assets, the personal data of its citizens and the online competitive advantages of the state’s robust business community would be a top priority. Her prescience led to the appointment last week of a state cybersecurity officer, putting Rhode Island in the vanguard among state governments. At the same time, she established the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisory Board.
As Gov. Raimondo has said on several occasions, we live in an increasingly digitally-reliant environment. Our online connections – those pathways that support business transactions, personal correspondence and innumerable communications in between – have become as important as our roadways and railways, and they must be protected to ensure they remain safe and accessible.
The governor’s creation of the Homeland Security Advisory Board and appointment of Mike Steinmetz to the position of cybersecurity officer will do just that.
The state CSO role will deliver immediate benefits. First, the state is poised to become more cyber ready than ever before. In addition, those who lead Rhode Island’s cybersecurity efforts can now connect more readily with their peers in other states to share timely information and gather new knowledge.
Along with increased cyber awareness and the development of more effective strategies to deal with digital threats, Rhode Island has positioned itself as a leader in cybersecurity education. The new CSO as well as the Homeland Security Advisory Board are sure to be a powerhouse within the cybersecurity industry – the state will have better visibility across the sector and can create synergies between academia, business and the public sector to promote degree programs and certifications that will keep the local expertise base strong.
As Rhode Island leverages the cyber expertise within its borders, additional educational opportunities and research activities will contribute important new knowledge in the fight against cybercrime, both here at home and in transactions with business partners and colleagues across the globe.
Cybercrime has become more widespread, complex and dangerous, while the risks have spread to everyone in our connected world. We know from experience that successful security requires strong partnerships between government and the private sector. Through the efforts already undertaken by Rhode Island’s leaders … businesses and citizens alike will know that Rhode Island has their back.
Matt Cullina is CEO of Providence-based CyberScout, a leading data security and identity theft protection firm, and was a member of the Rhode Island Cybersecurity Commission.