Governor Jay Nixon addressed a state sponsored cybersecurity summit Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Several hundred people representing local governments, law enforcement, business and education gathered at the event intended to strengthen protection of electronic information.

Cybersecurity Summit - photo courtesy of Gov. Nixon's Twitter feed

Cybersecurity Summit – photo courtesy of Gov. Nixon’s Twitter feed

Nixon told the audience that it’s a very transitional time for cybersecurity.  “The bottom line is we have a joined responsibility, public and private sector, to define very clearly, what is public, what is private (information)” said Nixon.  “And when we make that agreement with the public to give us information, we have a responsibility to make sure that we protect it.”

As a member of the Council of Governors – a group appointed by the President to be liaisons to the Department of Defense – Nixon noted he’s had numerous discussions with high ranking Pentagon officials.  He said there’s a high level of anxiety inside the military over the possibility of cyber breaches.  “They are far more concerned about cyber-attacks than they are nuclear attacks.  We know where the fissionable plutonium is.  We are not sure where the bad guys are on the other side.  They spend a tremendous amount of time working this, and have a tremendous amount of expertise…They wake up every morning or every night even more scared.”

Nixon also said businesses and organizations will have to have measures in place to safeguard electronic information in the future. “We’ll look back and say, this will be like ‘How do you have traffic without traffic lights.  How did you control traffic without traffic lights’.  It’s going to be that necessary.”

The summit was hosted by the Missouri Office of Administration along with its Information Technology Services Division and Office of Cyber Security.  It’s part of a statewide program to boost cybersecurity awareness and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.