AZ Tech Council Spring 2016 President’s Message

by Steven G. Zylstra

Steven G. Zylstra, President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Steven G. Zylstra, President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Talk about timing. I had just arrived in Washington, D.C., recently to lead Arizona’s delegation for the annual DC Fly-In, an opportunity for members of the nation’s technology community to share their hot button issues directly with lawmakers. Suddenly, Capitol Hill was ground zero for one of our topics: cybersecurity.

That day the word came out a hacker or hackers had just published the names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses of thousands of FBI employees. The day before, similar data of about 9,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees was leaked.

By coincidence, President Obama that week rolled out his Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) featuring near-term actions and long-term strategy to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy and maintain public safety. Most noteworthy was its including the president’s fiscal 2017 budget request to invest more than $19 billion — an increase of $5 billion over this year — for cybersecurity. About $3.1 billion is earmarked for the Information Technology Modernization Fund, which will enable the retirement, replacement and modernization of legacy technology that has reached the point of being difficult to secure and expensive to maintain.

Other features of the plan include establishment of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity to be comprised of top strategic, business and technical thinkers from outside government. In addition, the president wants to empower Americans to secure their online accounts by moving beyond just passwords and adding an extra layer of security. This makes complete sense considering identity theft is now the fastest growing crime in America.

Even candidates for the presidency face a cyber threat. According to CIO magazine, so-called “hacktivists” already are working to hijack the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of candidates and news outlets in an attempt to spread misinformation. Their bait will appear to be political party or candidate email that advocates an online petition or survey about election topics, links to a supposed news story, or relays information about voter registration or debates. A source in the story expects some campaigns will hire their own CIOs to protect their media assets.

In this increasingly digitized world, what business can afford to leave its assets unprotected? That’s not just a topic raised on Capitol Hill. It comes up constantly here at home. That’s a reason the Arizona Technology Council offers an affordable cybersecurity insurance program to its members. If you think you’re already protected by your regular liability insurance policy, think again.

In addition, the Council is preparing for its third annual Cybersecurity Summit. A slate of speakers and panels can offer information on what you can do to stay ahead of the threats that seem to change daily. More details on the Summit are featured in one of the stories inside this section.

I encourage you to join our efforts in battling this new type of enemy that we all face. The Council will use its resources to help but we can’t do it alone. And we can never give up.

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