Senator John Boozman
As cyber threats continue to evolve and target critical services, robust cybersecurity becomes increasingly important. In recent years, we have experienced disruptions to pipelines, key food suppliers and water treatment plants. Here in Arkansas, we’ve found hospitals, school districts, and county governments targeted by cybercriminals in the last year.
An alarming increase in cyberattacks against institutions and critical services demonstrates the need to stay ahead of the bad guys by investing in capabilities and resources to defend against these risks to national security.
In a report last year, the Office of the Inspector General of Homeland Security acknowledged the need to improve the quality of threat information shared between the public and private sectors to help develop appropriate action plans to mitigate hazards.
That’s why the new initiative at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock is so valuable. Just a few days ago, the school announced the launch of a new Threat Intelligence Sharing and Analysis Center (ET-ISAC) to combat the growing cyber threats in the energy sector.
More than 80 percent of the country’s energy infrastructure is privately owned, so greater coordination and engagement is critical to our national interest. Critical information is often not reported and widely shared, delaying security concerns.
By working with local utilities and partners, we can better protect our energy infrastructure. ET-ISAC develops training simulations and information sharing practices across the energy sector to identify threats and communicate across the industry about current risks.
This effort positions The Natural State as a leader in cyber defense and is an important part of the national strategy to prevent breaches and attacks that can disrupt our lives.
It builds on existing collaborations in Arkansas to meet the growing need for skilled cybersecurity professionals. In 2021, UA Little Rock will join UA Pine Bluff and Forge Institute to form the Cyber Innovation Consortium. The project develops and coordinates cyber education, integrates applied research capabilities statewide, and builds industrial and educational clusters to support cyber readiness.
Unique coursework at Central Arkansas University has also created an employee pipeline for defending against evolving cyberthreats.
The president signed the law last year Cybersecurity Opportunities Actthe bill I supported to expand cybersecurity training programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) would create even more opportunities for Arkansas’ HBCU cybersecurity workforce.
I am proud to strengthen the state’s role in combating cyberthreats and support efforts to prepare and train personnel to protect information and protect critical networks. ET-ISAC will be an important part of ongoing national and national efforts to strengthen the digital infrastructure and protect sensitive information and networks.
As cyberattacks persist and evolve, we must continue to strengthen our ability to respond quickly to threats. I am proud of the role Arkansas is playing in this important effort and will continue to support initiatives and partnerships that pave the way for a safer and more reliable cyber future.