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CISO Compass: Breaking down silos in cybersecurity

Dear Washingtonians!

I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy New Year. There is much to look forward to in the coming months, including the promise of vaccinations and a new normal.

Without question, 2020 was a horrendous year and I’m glad to see it in the rearview mirror. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on all of our lives and resulted in significant changes in how we do business, socialize and even get basic necessities.

The pandemic also brought about tremendous change in the world of technology and cybersecurity.

You’ve heard me talk before in these columns about the need to take a threat-centric approach when it comes to protecting the state from cyber threats. Washington historically has had a federated system where each agency was largely responsible for its own security. I have advocated for a unified approach where all state agencies come together as a collective force to more effectively combat bad actors.

I am happy to report the state has made tremendous strides in just a few months. There is now an unprecedented level of collaboration among security leaders across state government, and even local government.

The state Office of Cybersecurity tapped the talent and expertise of the state’s security professionals for thought leadership and new approaches to improve security. One example: The Strategic Advisory Groups that advise my office on enterprise security services and functions. State agency security professionals provide their time and expertise to serve in groups. In addition, agency security and IT leaders now meet on a weekly basis to address common issues and discuss solutions for the state as a whole.

Governor Inslee in his inaugural address on January 13, 2021, said “In Washington state, we know how to succeed” and he attributed resilience and solidarity as the drivers for our success. The state’s security professionals have proved that as well. The pandemic not only threatened public health but also spurred bad actors to launch a flood of cyberattacks including large, unprecedented phishing campaigns, hoping to take advantage of others’ misfortune.

Washington responded to multiple threats, and in many ways has emerged stronger and more secure and resilient as a result.

Early this year I announced the need to build a “community of expertise” as a goal for 2021. As bad actors plan new ways to launch cyberattacks, let’s build a unified force with the right level of expertise that focuses on the need to secure the state as a whole.

While I’m sure 2021 will bring other new challenges, I am confident in our ability to move forward together as a state to meet them, and continually strengthen our security posture. I welcome your thoughts and ideas and look forward to our continuing partnership to serve this great state. Thank you for all that you are doing.

Vinod Brahmapuram

State Chief Information Security Officer