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Bill Comes After Testimony on NJ’s Vulnerability

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Homeland Security Chairwoman Annette Quijano sponsored to protect New Jersey’s critical infrastructure and guard the state against cyber terrorism and cyber attacks was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-4369) establishes a Cyber Security Bureau within the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness dedicated to the protection of the state’s cyber security infrastructure, including the identification and mitigation of vulnerabilities, deterring and responding to cyber events and promoting cyber security awareness within the State.

The bureau is required to work in conjunction with the Office of Information Technology to establish statewide policies, standards, programs and services relating to cyber security and geographic information systems.

“Cyber terrorism represents one of the greatest challenges to national security in this country because of the complex and technical nature of computer information systems and the ability of terrorists to initiate an attack on critical infrastructure from a remote location,” said Quijano (D-Union), who heard testimony on New Jersey’s vulnerability to cyber terrorism and attacks before her committee advanced the bill. “New Jersey’s critical infrastructure increasingly relies on computer networks and information technology, so it’s imperative that we combat the threat of cyber terrorism that would disrupt the state’s computer networks and ultimately jeopardize the State’s critical functions, including law enforcement and public works.”

The bill also requires the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to appoint a Chief Cyber Security Officer from among his staff. The chief cyber security officer would be authorized to maintain electronic data relating to the state’s critical infrastructure, and to coordinate activities with private sector entities and not-for-profit groups regarding cyber incidents and potential cyber threats.

“This much is clear – we need to be actively protecting the state’s computer networks, responding to cyber events and promoting cyber security awareness within the state,” Quijano said. “We need the dedicated and full-time focus a Cyber Security Bureau would provide as a single, cohesive office. Right now we have separate agencies handling different cyber security issues, and one of the big reasons this bill was drafted was to consolidate those efforts into a single, dedicated compartment.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.