IT security in California state government may be headed to boot camp.

Col. Keith Tresh, a former brigade communications officer who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, has been appointed director of the Office of Information Security (OIS) at the California Technology Agency. His first day on the job will be Aug. 22.

Tresh’s previous position was CIO of the California National Guard, a post he held since 2006. Carlos Ramos, secretary of the California Technology Agency, said Tresh’s vast experience in knowing how to run an IT environment and infrastructure will serve him well in his new role with California.

“He’s had to deploy and manage technology in areas where security and the ability to keep it safe from attack and in some cases not just cyber-attack, but physical attack is very impressive,” Ramos said. “He’s actually had to deploy telecommunications systems in Iraq in a battle zone situation. So we think that gives him a good and solid preparation for the job he’s going to take on here at the state.”

Ramos added that with the rise of hacking incidents and cyber-crimes in the U.S. and abroad, it was the right time to bring in a person of Tresh’s background into the fold.

“The thing is there is more concern that the next sort of attacks we might experience here in the way of terrorism might be cyber-terrorism,” Ramos said. “California has been without a director of OIS for too long and that’s why I think [Gov. Jerry Brown] has made this one of his top priority appointments.”

California’s last director of OIS was Mark Weatherford, who resigned in July 2010.

Ramos said Tresh’s main responsibilities will be setting up information security, privacy and data protection policy for the state. In addition, Tresh will have to ensure departments and agencies that run their own systems comply with those policies and other best practices.

Other tasks of note will include training the state’s technology work force on how to keep systems protected, and representing the California Technology Agency on various boards and organizations, including the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

“He’s also sitting ... as a member of the High Tech Crimes Task Force, which is a multidisciplinary, multiagency task force really aimed at responding to ... technology-related crimes, including system breaches, hacks and all those sorts of things,” Ramos said.

Tresh also has continued military service commitments, but Ramos was adamant that those commitments wouldn’t interfere with Tresh’s duties.

“I forgot what he called it, but he is in the reserves, and he does have to provide military service on a very scheduled basis,” Ramos said. “How it will impact us is he’ll be doing his part for the good of the country and the state through the military, but during the times he has to be absent from the office, we’ll certainly make provisions for those absences.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.