The Domestic Terrorism Task Force, formed by Gov. Abbott in the wake of the El Paso shooting, met today for the second time to analyze prevention strategies against domestic terrorism in the form of cyber attacks, and discussed the importance of good cyber hygiene in both the public and private sector. The roundtable also included a presentation by Colonel Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who provided an update on DPS’ response to the Governor’s Executive Orders that were issued in the wake of the shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
The meeting was open only to those on the task force but after the roundtable discussions, the media was provided summary remarks of the discussions. The discussion focused on moving towards a proposed statute that defines domestic terrorism and creates law to prosecute it. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety provided cyber hygiene resources available to the public to increase vigilance against attempted cyber attacks. More details on the summary remarks can be found below. The Texas Tribune also covered the discussion in their recent article, Gov. Greg Abbott warns Texas agencies seeing 10,000 attempted cyber attacks per minute from Iran.
This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics the committee took up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the hearing but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.
Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas
- Cyber Terrorism is of specific concern as a result of the Iran situation
- The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) has reported an increase in attempted attacks from Iran on state agencies at a rate of as many as 10,000 per minute
- For local governmental entities concerned, a phone number was provided to learn about good cyber hygiene
- For non-governmental entities, go to this link: https://dir.texas.gov/View-About-DIR/Information-Security/Pages/Content.aspx?id=155
- Continued cyber attacks from Iran are expected, be vigilant
- Director of DPS, Steve McCraw gave a presentation during the closed discussion detailing DPS’s response to the governor’s executive order: Governor’s Executive Orders
- Resources were also listed for the public to use to practice good cyber hygiene:
- Texas Domestic Threat Assessment
- Assessing Mass Attacks Threat to Texas
- DPS is working with Fusion Centers in the state and is actively searching for internal threats
- The Criminal District Attorney from Lubbock, Sunshine Stanek, has worked to outline proposed statutes to define, prevent, and prosecute domestic terrorism. This is one of the main goals of the task force
- QUESTION: What is being done to prevent shootings and violence like that which recently took place in White Settlement?
- The shooting in White Settlement was murder, not an act of domestic terrorism. Ongoing investigation is happening to determine if it was an act of terror.
- QUESTION: What are traits of domestic cyber terrorism?
- You may or may not know if you have been attacked
- Attacks can be embedded in a device that are not detectable for months or years
- Other attacks are immediately obvious
Amanda Crawford, Executive Director of the Department of Information Resources (DIR)
- QUESTION- How many of the attempted cyber-attacks have been successful?
- Attempted attacks have not been successful on state agencies, as they are monitored by the DIR. Other attacks may have been successful with organizations that are not monitored by the DIR.
The task force meets quarterly, or at the call of the Governor.