Welcome to the Whole-of-State Blog! In this post, we’ll explore the concept of Whole-of-State (WOS) and its significance in the realm of cybersecurity.
What is Whole-of-State?
At its core, Whole-of-State is a collaborative cybersecurity strategy that brings together various levels of government, educational institutions, tribes, and private sector partners to address the multifaceted challenge of cybersecurity. It’s about pooling resources, sharing challenges and successes, and fostering communication across different tiers of government and sectors.
The participants include:
- K-12 schools
- Private sector partners
By working together, these entities strive to enhance cybersecurity, making it more effective and efficient. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work,” and this holds true for cybersecurity, too.
Whole-of-state collaboration can encompass a wide range of initiatives, such as addressing communication challenges, exploring funding options, and sharing resources, personnel, and knowledge. It’s about joining forces to create a bigger pool of resources and finding the best solutions together.
Why is Whole-of-State important now?
In recent times, cyber incidents and breaches have been on the rise, and the public sector has emerged as one of the primary targets for cyberattacks. This is partly due to the cybersecurity efforts in the public sector being underfunded. While private sector entities, such as manufacturing, finance, and banking, allocate more than 20% of their budgets to cybersecurity, the public sector often dedicates less than 10%.
This disparity in funding makes the public sector an attractive target for malicious actors. Recent data reveals that 99% of cyberattacks on the public sector are financially motivated. Attackers see these entities as easy prey, much like “smash and grab” robberies, where minimal effort yields maximum returns.
Who should participate in a Whole-of-State strategy?
The success of a Whole-of-State strategy relies on the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders. On the public sector side, this includes states, counties, cities, K-12 schools, higher education institutions, critical infrastructure, and tribes. Moreover, forging partnerships with the private sector is essential, whether it’s for information sharing or implementing cybersecurity solutions.
In a Whole-of-State approach, there’s no such thing as too many participants. It’s all about fostering a “coalition of the willing.” Anyone and everyone willing to collaborate and work together is encouraged to join. The more diverse the participation, the stronger the defense against cyber threats.
The most successful whole-of-state initiatives are driven by a shared commitment to collaboration. Participants are not coerced into action but willingly recognize the magnitude of the cybersecurity challenge. It’s a call for mature entities to support those less experienced in cybersecurity – bridging the cyber divide between “haves” and “have nots.” Small, less mature entities should no longer ignore the problem, as cybercriminals do not discriminate based on size or location. They must be open to seeking and accepting help from more mature entities to collectively tackle the cybersecurity challenge.
We must shift the burden for cybersecurity away from individual entities and toward a more unified stance to reduce risks for all of us.
In conclusion, Whole-of-State is about unity in the face of a common threat. It’s an invitation for all stakeholders to work together, share knowledge, and collectively enhance cybersecurity across the state. By collaborating, we can make our communities safer and more resilient in the digital age. Join the coalition of the willing and take the first step toward a more secure future.