Cyber Security Bureau proposal advances in committee

TRENTON – New Jersey is highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks and the growing number and sophistication of the threats and the state’s high number of targets are reasons to create a Cyber Security Bureau.

That was the message from Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Rutgers math professor Fred Roberts, who testified before Quijano’s Homeland Security Committee today.

The bureau, which Quijano’s bill (A4369) would create, would be part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Cyber crime could weaken or disrupt power grids and telecommunication systems among many other devices, disrupting everything from placing shopping orders to railroad networks, even access to water, Roberts testified.

Quijano said New Jersey, home to 15 pharmaceutical companies and several transportation hubs, is an attractive target.

Roberts, director of Rutgers’ Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA), described New Jersey as “a natural target” since it is home to several Fortune 500 companies, transportation networks for commerce ships and with access to the Big Apple.

While Roberts said there haven’t been thus far a high number of cyber crimes, some animal research companies have been victimized by various activists.

“We do not have an office dedicated to detection of cyber threats,” Quijano said.

She read a letter of support from former Gov. Tom Kean, who headed the Sept. 11 Commission.

“Cyber security would be one of our first concerns,” Kean wrote, whose “9/11 Report” authored with Lee Hamilton did not include much information on cyber attacks. In the letter, Kean called Quijano’s plan for the bureau an “important step.”

Roberts cautioned, though, about personal data infiltrations, saying, “it is inevitable some things will go wrong.”

Dennis Quinn, assistant deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security, said the office has analysts who work on detecting and preventing threats, and partners with other states on this effort.

Quinn said he wasn’t quite sure if the bureau would help, adding that the office has coordinated well in addressing such situations.

Elvin Montero, a communications director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, expressed support for the bureau, saying it would complement the efforts already undertaken by the Office of Homeland Security.

Quijano said the bill would not create another bureaucracy, but would simply streamline the operations by having certain individuals primarily devoted to cyber crimes.

“I don’t want this bill to be seen as a complaint to current processes,” she said.

The bill was unanimously supported.