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CISO Compass: Three things organizations should do

Dear Washingtonians!

I hope you all are doing well, staying home and staying healthy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. However, I am cheered by early signs that conditions are improving in Washington state. Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced his Safe Start plan, a data-driven approach to reopening the state's economy in the coming days and weeks.

We have all had to adjust how we go about our business and daily lives during this pandemic. This was also true for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, which for the first time in its history, held its midyear conference virtually from May 4-6.

I was inspired by one of the keynote speakers at the conference, filmmaker Brett Culp, who talked about three things organizations should be doing now:

  1. Celebrate the small victories.

  2. Be ready for giant leaps and bold steps.

  3. Stay focused on your epic journey.

His ideas served as a beautiful reminder to me, and I wanted to share them with you from an information security perspective.

Celebrating the small victories

Sometimes we are so focused on all the things that we must do, that we don't take time to recognize what we have accomplished.

Washington state has been a leader nationally, not only in its approach to combatting the pandemic using science and data but also in how it has used technology to provide critical government services to Washingtonians.

For example, the state has dramatically increased its Virtual Private Network (VPN) so that the state's workers can safely and securely work from home. We've also ensured that SecureAccess Washington (SAW) has the capacity needed for Washingtonians to access government services they need securely.

In addition, state agencies have closely collaborated on the security front, with constant communication to share intelligence and resources. This level of cooperation has helped ensure that state government services continue to function well and serve state residents in need.

Being ready for giant leaps and bold steps

We are barely at the start of what is going to be a very long and complex journey. The outcome of this virus situation is not just about what is happening now but also what will happen in the future, including the impact on budgets and resources.

Now more than ever, we need to be creative and bold in how we approach our work and think outside the box. Doing business as usual is not going to be an option because of the challenges we face. So, from a security standpoint, I believe we will need a bigger and broader change and collaboration moving forward. Unprecedented times need unprecedented changes.

Focusing on your epic journey

Please do not forget how important your work is because it is critical to ensuring state services function smoothly during the current crisis and beyond. We must stay focused. There are a lot more things we're going to have to do from a security standpoint, and we must move fast. So that's the journey, that's the truth and where we are at right now. 

Speaking of important work, I want to recognize the security staff and leaders at all the state agencies who have worked so closely with our office since the pandemic started. Cybersecurity is a collective effort, and Washington state is fortunate to have such a talented and committed group of professionals on its team.

Here is my question for you: What are your suggestions for ways we can be bold during this unprecedented time?

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, and please stay home and stay healthy.


Vinod Brahmapuram

State Chief Information Security Officer