May 31 – June 01, 2024

Last week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. led a roundtable discussion focused on challenges and opportunities in K-12 cybersecurity. Hosted by the New Mexico Department of Information Technology, the roundtable discussion with more than 25 state officials, school administrators, and IT professionals promoted the benefits and ease of use of the free service called Protective Domain Name Service (PDNS) for K-12 schools nationwide. Importantly, it was also an opportunity for Federal and state officials to hear firsthand about the challenges and needs of K-12 school leaders and discuss efforts that can be undertaken to improve their cybersecurity in the future. Raja Sambandam, who has served as New Mexico’s Acting Cabinet Secretary and State Chief Information Officer since June 2023, played an instrumental role in organizing the panel and identifying concrete next steps that the group could take to further protect students, teachers, and schools.

Director Coker moderated the conversation, which included Secretary Sambandam; Andrew Buschbom, New Mexico’s Cyber Security Advisor from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); and Brendan Montagne, Regional Engagement Program Manager from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC).

“We understand the unique threat on K-12 school districts and that’s why it was tremendously valuable to hear from those on the front lines here in New Mexico about their challenges and share the many resources available to schools from the Federal Government and our partners,” said National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. “It is absolutely necessary that we shift the responsibility of defending cyberspace off the shoulders of schools and school administrators, and onto organizations that are best positioned to reduce risk and we are here to help – help schools with resources that can provide protection in the short-term, and help alleviate the larger challenges that put them at risk in the long-term.”

Later in the day, Director Coker attended the United States-Spain Council Annual Forum to inform participants of ONCD’s role in the development and implementation of cybersecurity policy and strategy for realizing an affirmative vision for a safe, prosperous, and equitable digital future.

As part of the Annual Forum, Director Coker participated in a panel with Lidia Fonseca, Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at Pfizer at the New Mexico State Capitol on the “Impact of Cybercrime on International Business.” The panel was moderated by Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

Ensuring cybersecurity for New Mexico requires a strong workforce committed to this fight. In New Mexico, over 7,000 residents are employed in cyber careers. Nevertheless, there are over 3,700 unfilled jobs across the state; and, 2,700 of those jobs are available in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metropolitan areas alone.

President Biden’s Investing In America Agenda has delivered significant funding to New Mexico, including:

  • $675 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) to help provide access to high-speed internet across the state. In addition, about 162,000 households in New Mexico are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program, with more signing up every day;
  • $8 million through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC), which provided $268 million to help colleges and institutions that serve minority and Tribal communities; and
  • $5.1 million for the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program to address cybersecurity risks and cybersecurity threats to information systems that the state owns or operates.

Additionally, since President Biden took office, companies have committed to investing over $6 billion in New Mexico.

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