WASHINGTON – The state of Michigan’s Chief Security Officer Chris DeRusha shared how the Great Lakes State collaborates with public and private sectors on cybersecurity to keep citizens’ data safe in a daunting digital environment to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs today.
DeRusha talked about the many facets of the state’s cyber defenses and described the close collaboration between the Department of Technology, Management & Budget, the Michigan State Police, and the National Guard, as well as pioneering programs to improve the state’s overall digital security. These include the Cyber Partners program, aimed at improving county and local cybersecurity, and the award-winning Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, which leverages volunteer security professionals to respond to cyber incidents across the state.
“Attacks on government organizations at all levels continue to increase and demonstrate the ever-expanding capacity of our adversaries,” said DeRusha. “The interconnected nature of the digital age means securing a system or network can no longer be achieved by simply protecting oneself. Governments at the federal, state, and local levels must work together to enhance security capabilities throughout the ecosystem.”
DeRusha testified at the invitation of Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who serves as ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The hearing was convened to draw attention to the unique cybersecurity-related challenges that face state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments.
“Attackers always look for the ‘weakest link,’ and that’s why we must ensure that everyone from small businesses to our state and local governments have the tools to prevent, detect, and respond to cyberattacks,” said Senator Peters. “That’s why I have introduced commonsense, bipartisan legislation with my colleagues on the committee to help bolster our cybersecurity defenses at all levels of government.”
Peters authored several bipartisan bills to bolster SLTT cybersecurity, including through specially designated Department of Homeland Security advisers and expanded use of the federally-managed .gov domain for government websites. As a recognized leader in cybersecurity, the state of Michigan was asked to provide its unique perspective.
In support of these and other information security efforts, Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently requested an investment of $20 million in the state budget to further improve the state’s digital defense. Noting the hostile cyberthreats targeting the state, the appropriation would fund cutting-edge investments in areas such as threat modeling and intelligence, emergency response, and cloud security.