Colin Ahern has been named New York's first ever Chief Cyber Officer.
A leading expert in cybersecurity, cyber resilience and intelligence, Ahern will lead cross-agency efforts to protect New York State from increasingly prevalent and sophisticated cyber threats — working to ensure the security and cyber resilience of the State's information assets and critical infrastructure and integrity of the State's information assets.
Ahern will oversee all cyber threat assessment, mitigation and response efforts — working with executive management at every state agency to manage cyber risks and prevent attacks. Ahern will also lead the Joint Security Operations Center — a nation-leading hub for cyber threat detection and incident response. JSOC will be critical to cyber threat information sharing — effectively linking New York State, New York City, local and regional governments, critical infrastructure stakeholders, and federal partners.
Ahern previously served as First Deputy Director of New York City Cyber Command and later as Acting chief information security officer (CISO), where he led the transformation of a small cyber unit into a vast agency with more than 100 departments and offices in its purview. At the height of the pandemic, Ahern created New York City's first ever cloud-based, zero trust security environment — a massive undertaking enabling Cyber Command to pivot to remote work while still effectively defending against cyber threats. Before beginning work in city government, he worked in financial services as a security engineer and cyber threat researcher.
Ahern started his career as a U.S. Army Officer after enlisting in the Army Reserves following the September 11th terrorist attacks and eventually serving two year-long tours in Afghanistan. He was promoted to multiple leadership roles, and concluded his Army career as a company commander at the U.S. Army Cyber Brigade, where he oversaw the creation of a specialized cyberspace operations organization. His military decorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Unit Commendation with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, and the Knowlton Award.
Ahern currently serves as an adjunct Associate Professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a Guest Lecturer at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. He received a Bachelor's Degree from Tulane University and an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business.