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Arizona opens new 'Cyber Command Center'

Arizona on Monday opened a new "Cyber Command Center" aimed at coordinating efforts between state, local and federal agencies to detect and respond to cyber threats.

The program, which was previously called the Arizona Cyber Information Program, is now being renamed to the Arizona Information Sharing and Analysis Center or AZ-ISAC for short. It will be just one program that will be run out of the new command center, according to a press release from Gov. Doug Ducey's office.

The program brings both the public and private sector together and consists primarily of the Arizona Department of Administration, the Arizona Department of Homeland Security, the Arizona National Guard Cyber Response Team, the FBI's Cyber Crimes Task Force, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the multi-agency Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center.

The Arizona Department of Homeland Security is said to have detected and alerted on approximately 68 million threats and protected Arizona websites from over 800,000 attacks, according to the governor's office.

Arizona has been hit hard by cyber intrusions of all sorts from medical professionals to school administrators.

From 2005 to 2020, researchers found that Arizona lost roughly $1.6 billion from data breaches alone and 10.9 million records in the state were either stolen or lost. Additionally, researchers have also found that Arizona schools have leaked over 2.8 million records online since 2005 due to data breaches.

Ransomware attacks on healthcare institutions in Arizona have cost an estimated $4.2 million and exposed the records of over 11,000 patients in the state, according to researchers. Ransomware is malicious software that takes control of a target's computer systems unless certain demands are met.

The new Cyber Command Center is part of a push by the Ducey administration to address growing concerns around cybersecurity that included an executive order to create a team to investigate breaches that may have impacted the state, as well as understand gaps in the state's cybersecurity.

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The administration has been funneling money into projects such as replacing the Department of Education's finance system, a $9 million investment, in order to "reduce cybersecurity risks."

The new command center is part of what are known as "fusion centers" that are used by local and federal law enforcement and were established in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Last year, fusion centers themselves were the victims of a high profile hack dubbed "#BlueLeaks" which was the largest published hack of American law enforcement information. The fusion center in Arizona was one of the centers that had its information published.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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Governor’s Office

Gov. Doug Ducey, center, cuts a ribbon commemorating the launch of the Cyber Command Center on Oct. 4, 2021.