With quickly evolving technology and ever-increasing threats, stakeholders from information technology, business, educational institutions, and government agencies across the state of New Mexico are working together to tackle cyber security challenges. Representatives gathered at New Mexico Tech April 6 for CyberReady New Mexico’s daylong working group meeting to start to chart a course to help the state better prepare for future threats.

Lorie M. Liebrock, Ph.D., director of the New Mexico Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and the New Mexico Tech Cybersecurity Education Center, said her goal in hosting this first meeting was to help get a wide array of stakeholders – K-12 schools, higher education, and various levels of government including municipalities, workforce development organizations, and service programs – on the same page “so that we can help each other with cyberattacks across our state.”

The working group, which gathered in person at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Building in Socorro and virtually over Zoom, listened to presentations on the state of cyber security within schools and higher education institutions throughout the state, on the significance of having a statewide plan from the state’s Economic Development Department, and from the New Mexico Cybersecurity Center of Excellence on how it was specifically created to take on planning and coordination efforts.

The working group aims to not only improve the state of cyber readiness for New Mexico businesses, educational institutions, and government entities but to extend the preparations to individual citizens by sharing best practices, also known as “cyber hygiene.”

“A key goal is to make New Mexico a cyber security leader in economic development, education, research, and innovation while improving the cyber security stance of the state,” Liebrock said. The April 6 meeting was successful in mapping out the beginnings of a roadmap toward that objective, she said.

Speakers at the daylong meeting called for technology infrastructure investments, building up the state’s capacity by partnering with the National Guard and creating pathways for students to train for certifications and achieve competencies so they can put their skills and knowledge to work immediately, assisting organizations by conducting audits of their cyber security readiness and checking to ensure their assets are secure.

Bill Halverson, a senior technology advisor at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, said the working group’s focus must be more than assessments and training.

“Expand from information sharing to mutual cyber defense,” he said. “Cyber security is a team sport.”

Despite significant barriers, the working group aims to create a culture of cyber readiness throughout New Mexico by building infrastructure, forming partnerships, taking advantage of funding opportunities, and spreading awareness and education.

“This is exactly the kind of collaboration we want to be fostering,” Liebrock said. “Our long-term vision is economic development and workforce capacity.”