Arizona's homeland security forces are ready to respond amid Russian cyberattack threats, officials say
PHOENIX - As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, there are also concerns about Russian cyberattacks, but so far, Arizona officials say Russians have not attacked any computer systems in the state, since the war began.
Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts say with the Russian economy taking a huge hit on Feb. 28 due to international sanctions, threats in Arizona could only increase. Officials with Arizona's Department of Homeland Security say cybersecurity teams are working much longer hours the last few days. If Russia were to attack, it would likely be in the middle of the night.
"They've proven they will launch an unprovoked war. What will they do in cyberspace? Prepare for the worst," said Tim Roemer with the Arizona Department of Homeland Security.
Every month, the state receives over 2,000 advanced persistent threats, or critical concerns. So far in the last few days, that number has not increased.
Roemer, who heads the Arizona Department of Homeland Security, oversaw the October launch of the state's Cybersecurity Command Center. He says fears of Russian cyberattacks are justified, but says the state is ready.
"It's not our first rodeo," said Roemer. "We know what we're doing here, and we know it has the potential to escalate. We're very concerned about that threat, and we want to be as proactive as possible."
A proof of concept would come from the City of Kingman. The northwestern Arizona city's computer infrastructure was shut down in 2021 because of cyberattacks, but the state's cyber team helped.
"The city was down for 2 weeks completely down," said Coleen Haines with the City of Kingman. "It was just a great team effort. We were lucky they were deployed to Kingman so quickly in order to help us, and help us move forward."
It's all about preparation, because no one knows what’s coming.
"We're lowering the threshold of what we're paying attention to, so there might be certain things that we thought weren't a concern prior to this that we're really putting everything under a microscope," said Roemer.
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