Florida has turned to a military veteran to serve as its new chief information security officer.

Thomas Vaughn, who has served in the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, is the Florida Agency for State Technology's (AST) new chief information security officer, taking the place of Danielle Alvarez, who left the agency for a job in the private sector in June.

“I’m very excited by the challenges the job presents. And I’m really interested in being able to have a larger impact on information security,” said Vaughn. “It sounds a bit idealistic, but I really see this job as contributing not only to the safety and security of the citizens of the state of Florida, but also ultimately, to the defense of the nation. Because in the cyber-realm, we’re all kind of on the same battlefield. So, I’m looking forward to having some impact there.”

Vaughn began his new CISO role about two weeks ago, and wants to largely continue the efforts of Alvarez — who recommended that he apply for the position.

“But there are areas that I’m going to focus,” he remarked. “One of those areas is kind of in the area of threat intelligence and threat information.”

Vaughn, who has an intelligence background, wants to explore how the state can “better share information, how we can form stronger partnerships and collaborate a little more closely in terms of sharing that information.”

“The other big thing for me,” he added. “And I know this sounds a little general, but I believe in staying ‘people-centric,’ in my thinking. So, no matter what we do, it all needs to be where the end result is the support that we provide to the citizens and the employees in the state of Florida, the way that we protect that information and how that impacts their lives.”

Vaughn is a native Floridian, who spent four years in the Army, and then 20 years in the Coast Guard, before retiring in 2012.

“During my military career I did a little bit of everything,” he said. “It included, obviously, some IT stuff. But I also did communications. I did some intelligence work.”

Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Vaughn worked in the private sector as a Department of Defense contractor for the Army and Air Force, providing “informational assurance, which is DOD speak for information security,” said Vaughn.

“I did both engineering and management for those areas,” he added. 

Vaughn went on to do IT work for Sarasota County Schools, the city of Tallahassee and the Florida Department of Corrections.