With rapidly changing technology and ever-increasing threats, stakeholders from information technology, businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies in the State of New Mexico are working together to meet the challenges of cybersecurity. Representatives gathered at New Mexico Tech on April 6 for CyberReady New Mexico’s one-day task force meeting to begin charting a course to help the state better prepare for future threats.
Lorie M. Liebrock, Ph.D., director of the New Mexico Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and the New Mexico Tech Cybersecurity Education Center, said her goal in hosting this first meeting was to help get a broad range of stakeholders – K-12 schools, higher education, and various levels of government, including municipalities, workforce development organizations, and service programs — all on the same page “so we can help each other in case of cyberattacks across our state.”
The task force, which met in person at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources in Socorro and virtually over Zoom, listened to presentations on the state of cybersecurity in schools and institutions. statewide higher education, on the importance of having a statewide plan from the State Department of Economic Development and the New Mexico Cybersecurity Center of Excellence on how which it was specifically created to support planning and coordination efforts.
The task force aims to not only improve the state of cyber readiness of New Mexico businesses, educational institutions, and government entities, but also to extend readiness to individual citizens by sharing best practices, also known as “cyber hygiene”.
“A key goal is to make New Mexico a cybersecurity leader in economic development, education, research and innovation while improving the state’s cybersecurity posture,” Liebrock said. The April 6 meeting succeeded in charting the beginnings of a roadmap towards that goal, she said.
Speakers at the day-long meeting called for investments in technology infrastructure, building state capacity by partnering with the National Guard, and creating pathways for students to train to get certifications and gain skills so they can put their skills and knowledge to work immediately, help organizations by conducting audits of their cybersecurity readiness and verifications to ensure their assets are secure.
Bill Halverson, senior technology advisor at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, said the task force needed to focus on more than assessments and training.
“Move from information sharing to mutual cyber defense,” he said. “Cybersecurity is a team sport.”
Despite significant hurdles, the task force aims to create a culture of cyber-preparedness throughout New Mexico by building infrastructure, forming partnerships, taking advantage of funding opportunities, and spreading awareness and education.
“That’s exactly the kind of collaboration we want to foster,” Liebrock said. “Our long-term vision is economic development and workforce capacity.