SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Russian invasion of Ukraine may be an ocean away, but officials here in the states are also working to deter another Russian threat: cyberattacks. 

Hackers from overseas, including Russia, are attempting to infiltrate government agencies and digital infrastructure. 

“Our first priority and strategy is really to lay out a good defense,” said Vitaliy Panych, California’s chief information security officer. 

Panych’s role puts him in charge of protecting the state from cyber threats. During a one-on-one Zoom interview, he addressed actions he and his team take every day to stop hackers. 

“We are watching threat actors operating out of Russia as well as other nation-states. We do monitor all digital connectivity from all parts of the world. As a matter of fact, we block millions of malicious attempts a day from all parts of the world,” Panych said. “And really, we’re watching and studying threats as they are evolving. And so are we evolving our defenses.” 

Panych said thousands of workers across federal, state and local agencies have teamed up constantly to communicate with one another about possible threats. That and state-of-the-art cyber defenses have made it difficult for hackers to infiltrate the Golden State, he said. 

“We haven’t seen a specific attack that had a significant or considerable impact here within California or in the homeland, but that doesn’t mean they’re trying, nor does it mean they have the capability,” Panych said. 

It’s a capability the world has already seen from suspected Russian hackers who over the years have targeted Ukrainian government agencies, financial institutions and power grids. Experts said they are certain foreign hackers are trying to do the same — or worse — in the states. 

Panych said hackers are also trying to target citizens and their devices.

“Really important is patch and update your devices with the latest security. And that goes to your laptops, computers, smartphones or your home routers,” Panych said. 

As for the latest in Ukraine, for Panych who was born there and has loved ones hiding in bomb shelters, what’s happening there hits close to home. 

“I came from Kiev. I was born in Kiev, and it’s an absolute travesty to witness what’s going on there and the people, they’re fighting for their freedom,” Panych said. “It’s very personal. Definitely hits home.”