While the term “cybersecurity is a team sport” has long been used to reiterate the importance of collaboration within and between agencies on matters of network protection, a senior California state official is pointing to how Federal, state, and academic entities in California are putting this mantra into action.

Lieutenant Colonel Ty Shepard, the Joint Task Force Cyber Commander for the California Military Department, explained how collaboration among all of those levels are helping to generate more effective responses to cybersecurity incidents.

“It may be an overused cliché, but cybersecurity is a team sport – from those setting strategies, policies, and frameworks to those conducting forensic investigations in a computer’s active memory,” Shepard said during a virtual event hosted by GovExec on August 31.

In California, he explained, former Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. signed an executive order in 2015 establishing the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (CCIC), with the aim of helping to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber incidents that could damage the state.

CCIC is comprised of representatives from both state and Federal organizations: including the California Military Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the California Department of Technology Office of Chief Information Security.

“Our response team is there as a support system to the organizations who do not have the resources to properly respond to cyber incidents. Typically depending on what the issue is, our response team would respond in person or virtually,” Shepard said. “We cater to the organization who is requesting the assistance because we work in support of those organizations.”

For example, in the case of a breach at a local county school, the response team would be deployed to assist in the response. Then the school or county would be able to select the form in which the response team would advise or support the response effort.

Cyber response come in all shapes and sizes, Shepard explained. Some leaders are bringing in volunteer civilian cybersecurity experts to assist in readiness evaluations and emergency response during incidents, while other cases see state and local organizations receiving cyber backup from the national guard and cyber reserves as they help to get jurisdictions back online in the wake of a cyber emergency.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.