Oakland County introduces cybersecurity task force to help communities protect against ransomware

Ransomware everywhere is on the rise

Classes canceled over ransomware attack at Richmond schools

PONTIAC, Mich. – Oakland County Executive David Coulter today announced the formation of “Secure IT Oakland,” a cybersecurity and infrastructure task force to assist local communities prepare and defend themselves from cybercriminals and cyberattacks.

Coulter made the announcement in Troy during the two-day Cyber-Physical Systems Security Summit, sponsored by the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association.

“Industry experts indicated there is a one in three chance an organization will experience a data breach within two years at an average cost of $8.19 million,” Coulter said. “Ransomware everywhere is on the rise, including a projected doubling of attacks on state and local governments. These modern attacks are not simply expensive inconveniences – they put people’s health, safety and lives at risk due to important services not being available when needed. Luckily, there have been no confirmed ransomware-related deaths to date, but that luck may not continue into 2020 and beyond. We can and must do better.”

Leading the task force will be:

  • Ken Theis, CEO of Dewpoint, a Lansing-based information technology provider
  • Jennifer Tisdale, principal at GRIMM, a Grand Rapids-based cyber research firm
  • Mike Timm, Oakland County IT director

Coulter said the need is obvious. Oakland County has more than 100 local units of government and a population of 1.25 million people. The task force will provide a comprehensive list of solutions for the challenges faced by the communities and residents. He has asked for a report in 120 days.

“I am confident with Ken’s public sector experience as the state of Michigan’s former chief information officer, Jennifer’s leadership in this cybersecurity space in Michigan over the last seven years at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and in the auto industry, and with Mike and his experienced team at Oakland County, they will help us improve our cybersecurity and infrastructure security across the county,” Coulter said.

Oakland County’s Tech248 initiative, which connects the county’s 2,000-plus tech companies, frequently focuses on cybersecurity at its monthly meetups.

The group’s Mar. 23 meetup begins at 3 p.m. and is entitled, “Cybersecurity and You.” It will be held at VR Life Arcade, 320 N. Telegraph Road in Pontiac.

Registration is free at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com. Dave Glenn, chief business development officer of CBI Secure, is the guest speaker.