In 2005, the Michigan Department of Information Technology had just passed its three-year mark, and the service upgrades, cost savings and other benefits that came from consolidating all government IT into a single department were becoming clearer. Although early results were impressive, scary storm clouds were on the horizon for our young department.

Auditors were stopping by more often than they ever had. We didn’t have anything to hide, but these well trained pros from the federal government and our state legislative branch had a whole new set of questions that we’d never been asked. One enterprisewide security audit took more than a year to complete.

And as new laws surrounding compliance emerged, we were required to implement new internal controls to protect systems that had Social Security numbers, health records, credit cards and other sensitive data.   

Our agency clients also were seeking help in addressing their audit issues. Several major new systems were planned, but we still needed to remediate existing system vulnerabilities or explain to the auditors why we were holding off. The agency sentiment became, “You manage the people and systems — so you own the audit findings.”

The breadth and depth of these challenges covered multiple agencies, programs and business areas. The scope seemed overwhelming and expensive. Staff complained that they couldn’t keep up with audits and day-to-day tasks. We needed a new strategic approach to legal and policy compliance. 

Why bring up this compliance topic in 2011? This strategic audit/compliance issue is surfacing nationally, and we’re getting many calls asking for advice. We like to convey an age-old adage for agencies partnering with the private sector or using the cloud: You can outsource the system, but you can’t outsource the responsibility.

From payment card industry requirements to new health information exchange laws, business project survival often relies on an ever-changing, complicated checklist of controls. “Our new consolidated IT department had a big red target on its back,” said one respected state CIO. “We’ve never dealt with this level of scrutiny before from the auditors.”

Compliance is a part of the new normal. Your agency is now on center stage, so you’d better get used to crowds showing up. What’s to be done? Here’s our advice: Build an internal audit team to navigate the process. You need certified auditors who can speak the techie and auditor languages and translate as necessary. 

Assign one senior person who understands the enterprise compliance requirements to coordinate strategy. Your list of systems, audit findings, remediation plans and timetables must be a priority. Ensure this person has the right players at the table with proper executive authority.

Establish a measurable and repeatable internal controls framework, such as the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. Our team has templates for internal controls assessments, audit communication plans, business process controls, responsible parties, corrective action plans and more.

Get team buy-in. Discuss requirements and expectations with your internal and external partners to ensure that they are meeting compliance regulations in each critical area. Ensure contract wording is in place, business areas have points of contact, and technology infrastructure and software development managers are accountable for results.

Remember that although it may not feel like it, auditors can be helpful to your organization. Early audit findings surrounding cyber-security helped steer enterprise priorities. This audit action data allowed us to obtain funding for key security and infrastructure initiatives during difficult budget times. We even gave our auditor general the results of internal security assessments. By developing positive relationships and building trust with auditors, you can solve problems simultaneously — like obtaining compliance and strengthening security.

Leaders must follow through with audit remediation plans. Corporate memory is often lost with staff turnover, but remember compliance because the auditors won’t forget.

Dan Lohrmann is Michigan’s CTO and previously served as the state’s first chief information security officer. He has 25 years of worldwide security experience, and has won numerous awards for his leadership in the information security field.

Dan Lohrmann Dan Lohrmann  |  Chief Security Officer & Chief Strategist at Security Mentor, Inc.

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist and author. During his distinguished career, Dan has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, including enterprise-wide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.

Dan Lohrmann joined Security Mentor, Inc. (www.securitymentor.com) in August, 2014, and he currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for this award-winning training company. Lohrmann is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. 

Daniel J. Lohrmann was Michigan's first Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Deputy Director for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection from October 2011 to August 2014. Lohrmann led Michigan's development and implementation of a comprehensive security strategy for all of the state’s resources and infrastructure. His organization provided Michigan with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with Michigan assets, property, systems and networks.

Under Lohrmann’s leadership, Michigan was recognized as a global leader in cyberdefense for government - winning numerous professional awards for outstanding accomplishments. The Michigan Cyber Initiative, Michigan Cyber Range, Michigan Cyber Disruption Response Strategy, Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, new 7x24 Security Operations Center (SOC), reinvention of end user cyber awareness training, new cybersecurity portal and Cyber Summit Conference Series were just a few of the initiatives achieved in under three years. 

Over the past decade, Lohrmann has advised the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), numerous federal agencies, law enforcement, state and local governments, non-profits, foreign governments, local businesses, universities, churches and home users on issues ranging from personal Internet safety to defending government and business-owned technology and critical infrastructures from online attacks. 

Lohrmann is also a globally recognized author and blogger on technology and security topics. His keynote speeches have been heard at worldwide events, such as GovTech in South Africa, IDC Security Roadshow in Moscow, SecureWorld Expo events nationwide and the RSA Conference in San Francisco. 

He has been honored with numerous cybersecurity and technology leadership awards, including “CSO of the Year” by SC Magazine, “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine and “Premier 100 IT Leader” by Computerworld Magazine.

For more than a decade, Lohrmann served as a trusted advisor for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC). He also served as an adviser on TechAmerica's Cloud Commission, and a co-chair on several National Governor’s Association (NGA) committees to enhance cybersecurity. Lohrmann was also the chairman of the board for 2008-2009 and past president (2006-2007) of the Michigan InfraGard Member's Alliance. He currently serves on the Michigan InfraGard Executive Board.

Dan represented NASCIO on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s IT Government Coordinating Council from 2006-2014. In this capacity, he assisted in the writing and editing of the National Infrastructure Protection Plans (NIPPs), sector specific plans, Cybersecurity Framework and other federal cyber documents. 

From January 2009 until October 2011, Lohrmann served as Michigan's Chief Technology Officer and Director of Infrastructure Services Administration. He led more than 750 technology staff and contractors in administering functions, such as technical architecture, project management, data center operations, systems integration, customer service (call) center support, PC and server administration, office automation and field services support. 

Under Lohrmann’s leadership, Michigan established the award-winning Mi-Cloud data storage and hosting service, and his infrastructure team was recognized by NASCIO for best practices and for leading state and local governments in effective technology service delivery in datacenter consolidation, WiFi and mobile deployments. 

Earlier in his career, Lohrmann served as Michigan’s first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), and the first enterprise-wide government CISO in the USA, from May 2002 until January 2009. He directed Michigan's award-winning Office of Enterprise Security for almost seven years. 

Lohrmann's first book, Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web, was published in November 2008 by Brazos Press, Baker Publishing Group. His second book, BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work, was published in Kindle format in April 2013. He also wrote chapter 8 on "CIO as Protector: Our Cybersecurity Imperative," for the 2011 Public Technology Institute book, CIO Leadership for State Governments: Emerging Trends and Practices.

Prior to becoming Michigan's CISO, Lohrmann served as the Senior Technology Executive for e-Michigan, where he published an award-winning academic paper titled: The Michigan.gov Story — Reinventing State Government Online. He also served as director of IT and CIO for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget in the late 1990s.

Lohrmann has more than 28 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US / UK military facility. 

Lohrmann is on the advisory board for four university information assurance (IA) programs, including Norwich University, University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), Valparaiso University and Walsh College. 

He has been featured in numerous daily newspapers, radio programs, TV news, CSPAN and global media from as far away as Australia. Lohrmann writes a regular column for Public CIO magazine on cybersecurity. He's published articles on security, technology management, cross-boundary integration, building e-government applications, cloud computing, virtualization, securing portals and The Internet of Things.

He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

NOTE: The postings on this blog are Dan Lohrmann's own views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent Security Mentor’s official positions. 

Sample of Lohrmann Individual and Team Awards: 

  • Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Cybersecurity – National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) – recognized as top cybersecurity project in the nation. Michigan Cyber Training 3.0 – October 2013 
  • Executive Government Technology Award – GTRA’s GOVTek 2012 
  • Technology Leadership Award: InfoWorld  2011
  • Premier 100 IT Leader: Computerworld Magazine 2010
  • Top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers: Government Technology magazine 2009
  • Public Official of the Year: Governing magazine — November 2008
  • CSO of the Year: SC Magazine — May 2008
  • Top 25 in Security Industry: Security magazine — December 2007
  • Compass Award: CSO Magazine — March 2007
  • Information Security Executive of the Year, Central Award: Tech Exec Network - 2006