- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, four months after launching the state’s Joint Security Operations Center, named Colin Ahern as the state’s first chief cyber officer.
- Ahern will oversee the state’s efforts to protect a sprawling array of critical infrastructure sites, state and local government facilities and other information assets. He will also lead the Brooklyn-based Joint Security Operations Center, designed to coordinate statewide cybersecurity efforts.
- Ahern served as the former first deputy director and later acting CISO of New York City Cyber Command. He began his career as an officer in the U.S. Army and currently serves as a Columbia University adjunct professor.
The announcement comes at a time when New York, a major tech-reliant hub for international trade, finance and transportation, is taking a more aggressive approach toward threat mitigation and response.
The new chief cyber officer role was created in part to make sure facilities like hospitals, school systems, local water supplies and county government operations are not disrupted, according to officials.
“While large cities, like [New York City] with its Cyber Command, may have the resources to conduct full circle cybersecurity operations of identify, protect, detect, respond and recover, smaller jurisdictions within a state must look to state government for leadership,” Michael Brown, VP analyst at Gartner said via email.
Hochul doubled the state’s cybersecurity investment for the 2023 fiscal year to $61.9 million and expanded the state’s Red Team with enhanced penetration testing, vulnerability scanning and anti-phishing exercises.
Other states have named cybersecurity experts to key advisory positions in recent months. Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine in April named Kirk Herath, a former vice president, associate general counsel and chief privacy officer at Nationwide, as cybersecurity strategic advisor.
In March, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham named Annie Winterfield Manriquez as senior advisor for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure.
Rhode Island named Mike Steinmetz as the state’s first cybersecurity officer in 2017 and later named him senior advisor for homeland security.