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Homeland Secretary Gives 'Hard Truths' On Cybersecurity

The Homeland Security Secretary explained his vision for cybersecurity during a webcast Wednesday.

At least two government entities in Arizona have been hit by cyber attacks since the secretary announced his goal to transform how threats are defended.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had a list of what he called hard truths to tell on cybersecurity. The government was hacked last year, and didn’t know for months. It can’t defend the U.S. without private sector help because the private sector owns a lot of critical infrastructure. Mayorkas cited FBI data saying cybercrime losses were $4.1 billion last year.  

“Hackers target American citizens directly every day and impact their lives at a time when we have experienced unprecedented hardships,” he said.

Recent known cyberattacks in Arizona have knocked a city and a college district offline. They created chaos for Kingman residents trying to pay utility bills and delayed student learning at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

An executive order to prevent cyber attacks and build response capability for when they inevitably happen is in the works, said Mayorkas.

“While one can reduce the frequency of incidents through modernized defenses, ultimately it is not a question of if you get hacked, but rather when,” he said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.