Colin Ahern will work with state agencies to manage cyber risks and prevent attacks and oversee cyber threat assessment, mitigation and response.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed the state's first ever chief cyber officer.
Colin Ahern will lead cross-agency efforts to protect and ensure the security and integrity of the state’s information assets and critical infrastructure and combat emerging threats, officials said in a June 27 announcement.
Ahern, who previously served as the first deputy director and later as acting chief information security officer of the New York City Cyber Command, will oversee cyber threat assessment, mitigation and response, working with state agencies to manage cyber risks and prevent attacks. He will also lead the Joint Security Operations Center, a new data sharing hub that offers a centralized view of threat data from New York State, New York City, local and regional governments, critical infrastructure partners and federal agencies.
During the pandemic, Ahern created New York City's zero trust security environment, a cloud-based platform that allowed Cyber Command to pivot to remote work. Prior to that, he worked in financial services as a security engineer and cyber threat researcher.He also served in the military, winding up his Army career as a company commander at the U.S. Army Cyber Brigade, where he oversaw the creation of a specialized cyberspace operations organization.
"In an era of increasingly advanced cyber threats, Colin's proven expertise and experience in the military, the private sector, and government will be critical to identifying cyber risks, enhancing our defense systems, preventing attacks, and ensuring that New Yorkers and our institutions remain protected," Hochul said.
Naming a chief cyber officer is Hochul’s latest move to shore up New York’s defensive infrastructure. The FY23 state budget includes $61.9 million for critical protections, including more penetration testing, an expanded phishing exercise program, vulnerability scanning and additional cyber incident response services, officials said. The budget also includes a $30 million shared services program to help local governments acquire and deploy high quality cybersecurity services to help limit attacks that can spread through the state's interconnected networks and IT programs.
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