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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PR gov’t joins multi-state data-sharing entity to bolster cybersecurity

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the approval of new cybersecurity services in a collaborative agreement with a stateside data-sharing center under the Department of Homeland Security will allow the Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service’s Security Operations Center “to move forward with its objective of monitoring and protecting user computers and servers.”

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Wednesday new cybersecurity measures in government agencies with the Multi-State Information Sharing Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), a component of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), which is the entity designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to aid in the prevention and management of cyber threats to state and territory governments.

“Our government is taking affirmative actions that allow us to prevent and put agencies’ cyber systems at the forefront,” Pierluisi said at a press conference. “In February of last year, and consistent with our government program, we created the Cyber Security Office of the Government of Puerto Rico and hired a principal cyber security officer. This office is charged with providing centralized cybersecurity services for the Government of Puerto Rico through collaboration agreements with federal agencies and external service providers. The approval of these important services will allow the PRITS [Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service] Security Operations Center to move forward with its objective of monitoring and protecting user computers and servers while we continue to develop a digital government.”

The DHS and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are the federal agencies that handle cybersecurity and critical infrastructure issues for the federal government. Through an agreement, they delegated the responsibility for cybersecurity of local and territorial governments to the non-profit organization CIS. The agreement provides Endpoint Detection and Response services, in partnership with Crowdstrike, a leading provider of this type of service.

PRITS Interim Executive Director Nannette Martínez Ortiz said “this new effort positions Puerto Rico at a level well above compared to other jurisdictions in cybersecurity matters and matches us with the most competitive areas of the private sector.”

“In addition, it will significantly reduce the security risk, continuing with a progressive decrease as the necessary adjustments are made, adapting to the needs of the government,” she said. “It will also help minimize or prevent the impact of any phishing/ransomware-type cyber attack that we may experience in the Government of Puerto Rico, since we will have a monitoring service 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year by the Government of Puerto Rico Security Operations Center (SOC) of the MS-ISAC in New York.”

Meanwhile, PRITS has launched a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening the systems of government agencies, with the main objective of transforming the way in which services are offered to citizens and promoting the prevention and protection of cyber threats.

“As a public policy, we have established the development of a 100 percent digital government focused on serving citizens,” the governor said. “In this sense, it has been necessary to develop projects aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity measures of the agencies, which little by little continue to modernize their systems and provide services that respond to the needs of citizens.”

In February the STAR reported that Puerto Rico was the target of over 926 million attempted cyberattacks in 2021, according to data from Fortinet, a firm that provides automated cybersecurity solutions.

According to data obtained by FortiGuard Labs, Fortinet’s threat intelligence laboratory, Mexico was the Latin American country that received the most attempted attacks with 156 billion, followed by Brazil with 88.5 billion, Peru with 11.5 billion and Colombia with 11.2 billion.

In January, the island Senate was the target of a cyber attack that disabled its computers and phone system.

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