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Viewpoint: Imagine Delaware taking the title ‘First State of Cybersecurity’

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Mattie Moore
Guest Columnist

Delaware is well-poised to be the “First State of Cybersecurity.” While the state’s pioneering corporate laws continue to bring in millions in state revenue, a new focus on the future of cybersecurity has the potential to create jobs and bring renewed economic prosperity. If Delaware could take the lead in cybersecurity, that would be the perfect complement to the state’s well-established standing as the nation’s corporate capital.

Delaware’s major corporations continue to bring technology and innovation to the forefront. However, those same companies remain vulnerable to aggressive cyber-threat behavior from rogue nations.

Delaware’s cybersecurity future would certainly entail safeguarding the credit card and banking industry, which has experienced a downturn. A new emphasis on cybersecurity in this sector would reverse the trend.

In addition, the Port of Wilmington, which is already poised to play a bigger role in international commerce, could serve as a key component in the state’s emerging identity as a high-tech titan.

These ideas are not fantastical. Every business in the country is affected by the changing cyber-threat landscape, and some state is going to lead the charge in cybersecurity.

Let’s be that state.

Look at what’s happening in Wyoming. With experts concluding that the most likely targets for cyber-attacks in future elections are the sparsely populated states west of the Rockies, a Wyoming nonprofit called Made Safe is hard at work with the vision of making Wyoming the most cyber-secure state in the nation.

Wyoming’s vulnerability to cyber-threats is a big topic in the Cowboy State lately, and the University of Wyoming has launched a free cybersecurity camp for all teachers as well as students in grades seven and higher.

Delaware should take a page from Wyoming’s book, but do it better, building the most robust cybersecurity infrastructure in the nation. State legislative initiatives must be introduced to support cryptocurrency endeavors, blockchain use and liability protections.

There is much at stake here in the corporate capital. With the majority of Fortune 500 companies incorporated here, a major breach and theft of documents would be devastating to numerous Delaware trust companies, corporate filing organizations and law firm clients.

Imagine 30 percent of Delaware’s revenue vanishing due to a document breach and publishing of private client and corporate filing data. As has been the case with other jurisdictions jolted by these disclosures, Delaware would no longer be seen as a viable or safe jurisdiction to incorporate or practice trust law.

A key component of the state’s cybersecurity infrastructure should be the Port of Wilmington. State and local officials should reach out to the U.S. Coast Guard and ask what role the Port might play in the Guard’s cybersecurity efforts that were begun in 2015. Our role could include infrastructure and network damage recovery and backup support to major ports in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The Port of Wilmington and the state have an opportunity to propel the Port back to its World War II-era importance.

Two more avenues to explore:

First, Delaware could approach online retail giant Amazon with a proposal that the state be home to a cyber-threat detection center for the Amazon credit card. The State of Virginia made a similar overture to Visa, and the result was Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Visa officials standing together at the opening of the Visa Cyber Fusion Center in Ashburn in 2016.

Second, Wilmington could seek official federal designation as a Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (RCFL), which would dovetail particularly with the Digital Forensics department of the Delaware State Police. This is the exact federal, state and local level cooperation needed for Delaware’s presence as the nation’s center for cybersecurity.

Delaware’s potential as the First State of Cybersecurity can be accomplished, but only with a precise strategy focusing on a sector-specific approach combined with sensible legislative laws.

First State of Cybersecurity was one of the winning ideas at the Reinventing Delaware series, an idea crowdsourcing event developed by the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation. Mattie Moore holds a master’s degree in cybersecurity technology and policy and is a media commentator on cybersecurity issues.

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