Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's deputy web editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhode Island has assembled one of the nation's first teams to battle cyber disruptions in an effort to keep its networks running and its citizens safe. The Cyber Disruption Team, the first in the Northeast, is made up of representatives from the state police computer crimes unit, higher education institutions, hospitals and utility companies. If a natural disaster, virus or cyber attack knocks out or strains public or private infrastructure, this team of 8 to 12 individuals is responsible for restoring critical IT systems. In addition to the cyber-disruption team, the state plans to increase outreach to "businesses and local governments to encourage them to back up and secure their data, make sure their security software is up-to-date and implement continuity of operation plans," according to Emergency Management magazine. Massachusetts and New Hampshire are following Rhode Island's suit and creating similar teams as well as partnering with Rhode Island to develop regional response efforts. Officials in the three states hope to expand the planning collaboration to the other states, including New Jersey and New York.