COLUMBUS — A civilian unit of the Ohio National Guard, armed with data and computers instead of bullets, was created with the stroke of a pen Friday by Gov. Mike DeWine to respond to cyberattacks.
The Ohio Cyber Reserve would deploy upon demand in response to cyberattacks against election systems, governments, businesses, and critical infrastructure as the National Guard now does in response to natural disasters.
It also would work proactively to help barricade systems against attacks and to detect ransomware or other malware infection that already may be at work unnoticed.
“This is a persistent threat, and we have to continuously evolve our approach to protect our critical infrastructure when it comes to cyber,” Ohio Adjutant General John C. Harris, Jr., said.
The law will take effect in 90 days, but he expected the state to immediately throw the switch on a website through which those interested in volunteering could apply and be vetted.
Senate Bill 52 would create four regional teams consisting of 10 cybersecurity experts, expected to be volunteers from the private sector. Training would be undertaken through efforts with the Universities of Cincinnati and Akron.
“It’s going to make Ohio a leader in cybersecurity to have a force that is trained and ready to go when moments count,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R., Bowling Green).
The bill was requested by Secretary of State Frank LaRose as he looks toward the 2020 presidential election.
The bill calls for the creation of a chief information security officer within Mr. LaRose’s office to work with county boards of elections, gives his office a seat at the table of the state Homeland Security Advisory Council, and requires that post-election audits be conducted in at least three local races annually.
“This is the opportunity for our boards of elections to sort of balance the checkbook and tell the voters a few weeks after the elections that we went in and checked everything and we reported correctly,” Mr. LaRose said.