Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has a message for state leaders across the nation: Cybersecurity has to be a top item on their policy platforms. And, by the way, he very much intends to make Virginia the cyber capital of the United States.
McAuliffe's goal is fueled by two forces. The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to a large number of military assets, including the Pentagon, CIA and Quantico. But he also sees cybersecurity as a new economic force. "What a tremendous opportunity to grow and diversify your economy," McAuliffe says in an exclusive interview with Information Security Media Group at the RSA Conference 2016. "If you want to start a cyber company, I want Virginia to be the place you think of."
McAuliffe, who co-chairs the National Governors Association's Resource Center for State Cybersecurity, says information security is his main initiative.
"Every state needs to protect itself, [but] I think there's a lack of knowledge and understanding about what to do," McAuliffe says. "I'm hoping to use the National Governors Association as the template to give people the steps."
He also believes cybersecurity will assert itself as an agenda item in the fall presidential election. "People want to know that their commander in chief is going to keep them safe," McAuliffe says. "[Cybersecurity] obviously is the most important area."
Practicing What He Preaches
McAuliffe practices what he preaches, committing state resources to adopting the NIST cybersecurity framework and to growing the cybersecurity workforce. "I have 17,000 jobs open in northern Virginia right now in the cyber space," McAuliffe says. "They used to talk in the movie The Graduate, 'Plastics' ...? It's 'cyber' - that's the action now."
In this exclusive interview, McAuliffe (with a contribution from Karen Jackson, his secretary of technology) discusses:
- Why cybersecurity must be a national agenda item;
- How he has prioritized security in Virginia;
- His mixed feelings about the Apple/FBI conflict.
McAuliffe is the 72nd Governor of Virginia. He previously served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and was chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.