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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy appointed Arthur H. House to the role. House has been serving as the chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, where he has been heavily involved in combating digital threats to the critical utilities of electricity, natural gas and water.
Prompted by increased computer hacking in the public and private sectors, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy appointed Democrat Arthur H. House the state’s first cybersecurity czar.
House, a Simsbury resident, has been serving under Malloy for more than four years as the chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which oversees state utilities. In that role, House has been heavily involved in combating digital threats to the critical utilities of electricity, natural gas and water.
“As technology expands into every segment of our lives and creates greater convenience and ease, it also brings a new set of challenges and risks, and that includes essential functions such as our public utility systems,” Malloy said. “This position of chief cybersecurity risk officer will serve as a leader for the state who will coordinate the work responsible for enhancing Connecticut’s cybersecurity posture, and safeguarding our cyber systems and critical infrastructure in an ever-evolving threat landscape.”
A longtime Democrat, House was 34 years old in 1977 when he was named chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff. He later served under U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for state Senate against Republican Kevin Witkos of Canton.
Malloy said he was unsure how many states already have cybersecurity officers — who are currently working under a variety of different titles.
“We want to be a national leader in these efforts, and we are moving forward in a way that will allow us to be prepared for any contingency and safeguard our residents from cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure,” Malloy said.
House, 74, will continue to be paid his current salary, which public records show was $141,000 in the 2015 fiscal year.
Mark Raymond, the state’s chief information officer, said that hackers are constantly trying to break into the state’s computer systems . In the private sector, hackers broke into the system at Target department stores in 2013 affecting nearly 40 million customers.
“We’re not aware of any major intrusion that we relate to the taking of data — the likes of which we’ve seen at Target or Anthem,” Malloy told reporters Wednesday. “We have been subject to millions of attempts, and that’s not an unusual number. In Virginia … their attempted incursions are probably twice what ours are. This stuff is real. There are reasons to believe that there are people who intend to do harm, and quite frankly, we’re even seeing it play out in our presidential politics.”
House said he will be traveling on an American mission to the Ukraine in November to learn more about a cyberattack there last year that shut down electric utilities that served more than 200,000 people.
“There’s no such thing as a state of cybersecurity,” House said. “You’re never secure. Every day, there is someone — and the cyber mercenaries in eastern Europe are especially troublesome here. And we are trying to find new ways to defend against it.”