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Idaho Must Strengthen Cybersecurity, Task Force Says | Idaho News

By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho needs to be better prepared to defend against inevitable cyberattacks that could harm individuals, businesses and critical infrastructure, the governor’s cybersecurity task force said in a report released Wednesday. .

The 34-page report contains 18 major recommendations that include providing active cyber deterrence, increasing cybersecurity spending, ensuring the integrity of elections, and educating the public about cybersecurity threats.

“In our state and across the country, there have been few threats more pressing than the threat to safety, security and freedom from cyberattacks,” Republican Gov. Brad Little said at a press conference. cybersecurity task force announcing the report at the Idaho National Laboratory Meeting Center in Idaho Falls.

“It’s not a one-and-done,” Little said. “We’ll implement the baselines from there, but then we’ll have to continue with those recommendations.”

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Among the task force’s recommendations is the development of a statewide strategy that provides a clear set of actions to improve the state’s cybersecurity.

He also recommends that Little establish and have the legislature fund an Idaho Cyber ​​Fusion Center that could be a central resource for identifying cybersecurity threats, warning them, and coordinating responses.

The task force also proposes creating a cyber-response defense fund in the event of a cyber-attack involving elections. This has already been supported with $12 million approved by lawmakers earlier this year. An additional $500,000 was approved for “proactive integrity audits” to improve election transparency and confidence in election results.

Little formed the task force in August 2021 to address the heightened risk of cyberattacks the state faces as Idaho becomes increasingly connected to the world and more devices are connected to the internet. .

The task force has 19 members representing major Idaho institutions, including the Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho Office of Emergency Management, Idaho Power, Micron Technology, Bank of Idaho, Boise State University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and several Idaho state legislators.

“The more people make digital connections and exchange data, the more opportunities adversaries have to destroy privacy, disrupt critical infrastructure, and damage our economic and democratic institutions,” the task force report says.

The report lists five strategic objectives. These protect Idaho’s infrastructure, increase investments to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce, ensure election integrity, educate the public on cybersecurity awareness, and track the changing landscape. global cybersecurity.

The report notes Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which has included cyberattacks by Russia, and the potential for “cyber spillover.”

“The White House has repeatedly warned that Russia’s invasion, coupled with international sanctions, could lead the Kremlin to use cyberattacks against private sector organizations, including owners and operators of critical infrastructure” , says the report. “Like all states, Idaho would not be immune to the consequences of such an event.

Zach Tudor, associate laboratory director at the Idaho National Laboratory, co-chaired the working group.

“I believe the recommendations we’ve developed lay the foundation for improving Idaho’s cybersecurity posture now and in the future,” he said at the conference. hurry. “The timing of the report couldn’t be more important. Currently, there are billions of devices ranging from computers to smartphones, vehicles to vacuum cleaners, all connected online. And much of this technology is not properly secured. This means that these systems and the people who depend on them are at risk. »

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