Christie Empowers Central Office to Tackle NJ Agencies’ Cybersecurity
Gov. Chris Christie has signed an executive order designed to bolster New Jersey’s cyber security.
During a news conference at the Office of Information Technology on Thursday, Christie said a lot of personal information from private citizens is now handled by different state departments and agencies, and stopping cyber hackers from getting their hands on this information is an important service.
“If any of you in this room have gone through the nightmare of identity theft, and I have, it’s ugly. We need to do everything we can to make sure we don’t contribute to that possibility for any one of our citizens,” he said.
Christie said the executive order “is setting in motion a course of action that will deliver more secure, efficient and more reliable IT services across the entire branch of state government.”
The executive order directs the Office of Information Technology “to inventory all of the department and agency IT assets and to identify opportunities for centralizing common infrastructure and data center functions under OIT.”
Christie then clarified his statement.
“What I’m really saying is I am tired of having each department have their own IT stuff. It makes no sense. We have an office of information technology, they should manage this, they should run it.”
Christie said he understands commissioners and agency heads may not want to give up control of their IT, but that isn’t the point.
The governor also noted if the Office of Information Technology “exclusively performs this function in accordance with its statuary authority, departments and agencies don’t have to worry about it anymore — they can focus on their main mission.”
Christie says more than $10 million has been invested in the past year to bolster state government cyber defenses and reduce information technology risk, and as part of that ongoing effort, security awareness training is being prioritized across the executive branch of government to be headed by OIT.
He noted cyber security and information technology has been improved “by leaps and bounds over the course of the past eight years,” but this work will continue because technology will continue to evolve.
“We need to have the people that best understand that in charge of making those decisions,” he said.
Christie also stressed this should be a nonpartisan issue.
“This is about a common sense approach to taking us to a new level. You know when your computer goes down they don’t ask you whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”
He pointed out children these days get all of the information they need about everything on their phones or laptops.
“They don’t want to hear how complex this is, because to them, it isn’t. They want us to be able to deliver the information and services they need in the way they want to consume it. We need to meet that demand.”
Another part of the executive order stipulates that if a department or agency has a software program that is only used by them, then moving forward they will maintain direct supervision over that program.