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State under constant threat of cyberattack, beefing up its defenses

Arizona State Capitol AP
Posted at 10:41 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 01:41:27-04

PHOENIX — There is a saying among cyber security experts; the enemy only has to be right once. Over the last two years, the state of Arizona has spent millions to enhance its cybersecurity capabilities. It's now on display.

According to Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security, there were over 800,000 cyberattacks on state websites in September.

“Now think about that for a minute. Do the math. Our state websites face at least 2,600 cyberattacks every single day,” said Governor Doug Ducey.

Ducey said he was briefed by the FBI during the early days of his administration and told the U.S. was at war with cyber terrorism. On Monday, Ducey cut the ribbon on the new Arizona Cyber Command Center.

The administration says it’s a first in the nation program. It teams federal, state, and local law enforcement with state cybersecurity experts and the Arizona National Guard. 

“Its eyes on glass. Hands-on keys watching 7.5 million data points in the state of Arizona that we want to hold tight, that we’re entrusted to. A lot of threat actors are trying to get that. We’re defending those networks and that’s what they're doing every day,” said Tim Roemer, Director of Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security.

The cybersecurity analysts will work 24/7 monitoring more than just government computers. They’ll work to protect Arizona’s key infrastructure, like the power grid and our water supply. “These are the critical structures that we want to protect and it's not just fixing something, they’re coming at us every day.”

Roemer says most of the cyber attacks come from criminals trying to infect the state’s computer network with ransomware. But Arizona has also seen nation-states and hackers look for vulnerabilities. Now with the Cybersecurity Command Center operational, finding a way in just became more difficult.