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South Carolina National Guard joins Cyber Consortium announcement

By Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine | South Carolina National Guard | February 26, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Leaders from the University of South Carolina, South Carolina National Guard, local government and agencies, and some of the state’s major technology companies joined South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during the announcement of the creation of the SC Cyber Consortium at a press conference held Feb. 24, at the University of South Carolina’s Alumni Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

The SC Cyber Consortium will establish a new, active, strategy to combat cybercrime in South Carolina. Specifically, USC will provide the academic platform on which to build South Carolina’s cyber-defense by maximizing interagency cooperation and synergy between the private sector and local government.

By definition, cyber threat includes a broad array of activities for the unlawful exploitation of personally identifiable information (PII), or Sensitive Personal Information (SPI), with massive, negative effects on the American economy and security which affects citizens, infrastructure, and agencies.

For example, Cybercrime had a major impact in South Carolina in 2012, when the S.C. Department of Revenue was breached exposing nearly 4 million taxpayers, 2 million dependents and 700,000 businesses to criminal exploitation. The SC Cyber Consortium will challenge this status quo and establish the way ahead against cyber threats.

Collaboration in providing academic resources, feedback, strategies, while ensuring continuous cooperation within the most critical players in our economy is SC Cyber Consortium’s best answer to the challenges of the current cyber warfare threat environment.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Les Eisner, deputy director the USC Office of Economic Engagement, further stressed the importance of a collaborative, synergetic, cyber defense strategy by sharing his vision for a deliverable end-state.

“Business, education and government agencies will eventually create hubs throughout the state of South Carolina to one day rival places like the Research Triangle region in North Carolina,” Eisner said.

USC President Harris Pastides’s remarks reinforced the concepts expressed by Eisner’s vision.

“SC Cyber will provide something we don’t do well enough in South Carolina, or anywhere in the United States, and that is to link technology with better policy and law,” said Pastides.

Haley said, “I can’t promise you that we won’t get hacked again. What I can promise you is that it will not be out of lack of communication, education or a lack of coordination.”

The consortium will soon begin implementing the steps necessary to execute its plan, and provide a safer cyber environment in South Carolina. The South Carolina National Guard will provide key assets already available in its cyber warfare-cyber defense structure.

According to Maj. Barbara Mesaros, deputy director for intelligence, South Carolina National Guard, the SC Cyber Consortium has five lines of effort, which include developing a professional cyber security workforce, creating course curriculum from K5 through Ph.D. programs, economic development, collaborative protection, along with research and development.

“The S.C. Cyber Consortium is the first step in protecting the citizens, business, and critical infrastructure in the state of South Carolina,” said Mesaros. “It is a collaborative effort.”

“The Citizen-Soldier of the Guard is key to this process,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Van McCarty, the assistant adjutant general of the South Carolina National Guard. “It exponentially increases cyber defense capabilities by enabling cyber-specific skills acquired by National Guard service-members through their civilian occupations to complement the military side of cyber-defense and vice versa.”