Peter Liebert, who stepped down in June as the state chief information security officer after a pivotal three-year tenure, is once again using his cybersecurity skills to protect state assets from digital harm.  

After leaving the CISO position in June, Liebert was asked by the California Military Department to improve the California State Guard's cyber operations detachment.  

“I am the Commander of the California State Guard Cyber Operations Detachment, a volunteer position that I am doing in my spare time,” Liebert told Techwire in an email. “My main focus remains with my consulting business, Liebert Security.”

Liebert explained how the state various cybersecurity components fit together: “The mission of the California State Guard Cyber Operations Detachment is to support the California Military Department state cyber program. The California Military Department state cyber teams support the (California) Department of Technology and Office of Emergency Services with cyber vulnerability assessments and other cybersecurity functions. The detachment I command mirrors the capabilities of the California Military Department cyber teams. We provide redundancy and surge capability for the Military Department cyber security programs.”

With a bevy of academic degrees and professional distinctions, as well as service in the military, the federal government and the IT private sector, Liebert has a high profile in the industry. 

So what does his new role mean to vendors? Will be he involved in procurement?

“Great question. One of the reasons why I was attracted to this role is that we will be relying heavily on the private sector for various reasons. First, a majority of volunteers will be coming from private-sector companies — we are hoping for broad support from the vendor community to this end.

“Second, our unit will be utilizing private-sector technology for our various different mission sets. Just as the CMD Computer Network Defense unit utilizes multiple different capabilities, we will need to as well. The State Guard Cyber Operations Detachment relies on the Military Department for hardware and software when activated.” 

Liebert, who had worked with the Military Department for years in his state CISO capacity, said the department asked him to stand up and expand the Cyber Operations Detachment. He said it would ultimately expand to about 70 positions — cybersecurity professionals, analysts, administrators and legal counsel. 

Though his volunteer service with the Cyber Operations Detachment is similar to his former role as CISO, Liebert noted some key differences.

“The California State CISO role was focused entirely on the executive branch,” he explained. “Trust me, there is enough work there for one person to tackle; however, one thing that I always noticed was that there was a big need for other organizations within the state government to get additional capability and resources when required. The State Guard is designed to tap into the huge pool of cyber professionals within the state and allow them to give back to their communities while still maintaining their day job.”

Liebert’s role is unpaid.

“This is a volunteer, part-time position,” he noted. “There is no compensation. If deployed in State Active Duty status or during an emergency, I will be paid in accordance with my State Military rank, a Lieutenant Colonel.”

Liebert said that Liebert Security LLC remains his professional focus.

“I am still conducting cybersecurity assessments for entities (private and public) as well as providing cybersecurity, CISO, product, and marketing advice,” he said. “I am also still also in the market for a full-time position if something truly unique comes my way, though I am in no rush; I have really enjoyed consulting thus far!”

Liebert said he had one request:

“I would like to ask every cyber-savvy Californian out there to ask themselves if they can do more for their state. If you want to volunteer your time and expertise, please do think of joining up to this great organization. You have the chance to defend the Golden State against adversaries that are doing their best to bring down the services and government that you love. This year alone has seen dozens of counties and cities across the country hit by ransomware and various other malicious attacks.

“Our country and state need your help. Please consider helping in any way that you can. If you wish to be a part of this, I would ask that you please contact me at peter.liebert@stateguard.cmd.ca.gov and I will be happy to see how we can partner.”