North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order (EO) establishing the State of North Carolina Joint Cybersecurity Task Force.

The task force will be made of up experts from the North Carolina National Guard and the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association Cybersecurity Strike Team. According to the governor’s office, the task force will provide incident coordination, resource support, and technical assistance to state and local government agencies and educational entities including schools and universities that have been the target of significant cybersecurity incidents.

Gov. Cooper is not on the only state chief executive looking to strengthen their state’s cyber defense. Recently, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham created a new role in state government, senior advisor for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure.

As did Gov. Lujan Grisham with that appointment, Gov. Cooper cited a rise in in the volume and sophistication of cybersecurity threats facing state and local governments. Gov. Cooper’s office said the rise in threats requires “a need to understand the threat landscape to prevent attacks and to protect the state’s information technology networks and critical infrastructure.”

“The invasion of Ukraine and the threats of Russian inspired cyberattacks remind us of the cybersecurity threats that already exist every day,” said Gov. Cooper. “It’s more important than ever for us to work together proactively to prevent these crimes and respond quickly when they occur and this Task Force is helping us do that.”

The state said that the cybersecurity of North Carolina’s critical infrastructure will be “enhanced through greater interaction between the task force and public and private stakeholders to identify and respond to cybersecurity threats.”

As part of the EO, Gov. Cooper is encouraging the state’s public and private sector Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources entities to work with the task force to help identify any vulnerabilities and to report significant cybersecurity incidents to the task force to limit the impacts from an incident and to coordinate an effective response.

“These measures allow the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) and the task force to have a more realistic picture about what is going on around the state to better protect and defend North Carolina,” State Chief Information Officer and NCDIT Secretary James A. Weaver said.

The governor’s office added that other state and Federal agencies, as well as additional stakeholders, may partner with the task force as needed.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs