As the online world changes, is your government spinning up Web 2.0 or shutting it down? It seems a new set of interactive Web sites is born every week. Still, most public-sector CIOs are trying to answer simple questions such as: How far do we go with Web 2.0, and how can we secure it?

From consumer-oriented podcasts to enhanced search capabilities, many government portals are eager to keep up with the latest trend, while others struggle to secure Web 1.x.

In May, the U.S. military banned MySpace, YouTube and several other social networking sites from their networks, citing security concerns and bandwidth limits. The decision made headlines worldwide. In the same month, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated new French President Nicolas Sarkozy on his historic election victory via YouTube. Two months earlier, Ohio's tourism site proudly announced it was one of the first states with interactive, content creation capabilities that allow citizens to "Share Your Ohio."

So what should you do: Ban, adopt or sit back and study Web 2.0? I say all of the above, with your adoption speed depending on whether you want to be a bleeding-edge, leading-edge, mainstream or laggard organization. The security implications for your government are huge, but so are the benefits.

There's no question those "pesky" young people are changing expectations of what we must provide. A three-minute visit to the Times Online Web site is worth thousands of words. This is truly a new "online experience," with quick-loading maps, travel tips, online postcards and user-generated content. I see few security problems with implementing such quick tourism wins, right now.

But what about letting your employees "play," as some in my office call it? Clearly they'll experience new technology, but pay close attention to the security risks from virus downloads, botnets and worse.

Bandwidth considerations are a huge issue. Many Fortune 500 companies ban video-sharing sites for this reason alone. Even with the technology to limit video bandwidth usage, it's too hard to determine what's in the videos. Pornography can't be allowed, but can it even be detected? Web filtering companies like Websense have promised answers soon, but keep researching this area.

While you're at it, try to determine which MySpace pages qualify as "work-related." Unfortunately it tends to be all or nothing - which is why the military banned the site.

Web 2.0 games can provide interesting training opportunities but also can be a productivity killer. Expect to see more governments setting up tourism offices within Second Life - a virtual reality world - just like the Swedish government, Harvard Law School and major corporations have done. Others will run from this more novel method of attracting new users.

Of course, I'm assuming you have "Web 1.0" content and mail filtering technology in place already, protecting you from viruses and malicious code. If not, make that your first priority, along with updated policies that address areas such as protecting sensitive information, reporting breaches and training employees on 21st-century behavior expectations. Updating policies should be a regular activity for a committee with input from business customers, human resources and legal.

Perhaps the biggest change that comes with Web 2.0 is the new levels of cross-boundary government (and public-private) collaboration required to make "mash-ups." Mash-ups occur when multiple information sources are used to create new Web sites and new value for citizens. One great example of this is a new project that will let online tourists experience the Battle of Gettysburg in innovative multimedia ways. This effort involves federal, state and local governments, as well as many private companies, such as Google.

No matter where you are with Web 2.0, start talking with partners now because integration is the hardest part from a security perspective. Answer questions like: Who shares what information? Who owns the data? What happens if ...?

Though I support a "secure Web 2.0," the challenge is figuring out what that means in our constantly changing world. Apprehension is to be expected, but get in the game.


Dan Lohrmann is Michigan's chief information security officer. He has more than 23 years of worldwide security experience and has won numerous awards for his leadership in the information security field.


Dan Lohrmann Dan Lohrmann  |  Contributing Writer

Daniel J. Lohrmann became Michigan's first chief security officer (CSO) and deputy director for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection in October 2011. Lohrmann is leading Michigan's development and implementation of a comprehensive security strategy for all of the state’s resources and infrastructure. His organization is providing Michigan with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with Michigan assets, property, systems and networks.

Lohrmann is 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, 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 and “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine.

His Michigan government security team’s mission is to:

  • establish Michigan as a global leader in cyberawareness, training and citizen safety;
  • provide state agencies and their employees with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with state of Michigan assets, property, systems and networks;
  • develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy (Michigan Cyber Initiative) for all Michigan resources and infrastructure;
  • improve efficiency within the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget; and
  • provide combined focus on emergency management efforts.

He currently represents the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) on the IT Government Coordinating Council that’s led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also serves as an adviser on TechAmerica's Cloud Commission and the Global Cyber Roundtable.

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 and others for best practices and for leading state and local governments in effective technology service delivery.

Earlier in his career, Lohrmann served as the state of Michigan's first chief information security officer (CISO) 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.  Lohrmann was also the chairman of the board for 2008-2009 and past president (2006-2007) of the Michigan InfraGard Member's Alliance.

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 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 26 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 U.S./UK military facility.

Lohrmann is a distinguished guest lecturer for Norwich University in the field of information assurance. He also has been a keynote speaker at IT events around the world, including numerous SecureWorld and ITEC conferences in addition to online webinars and podcasts. He has been featured in numerous daily newspapers, radio programs and magazines. Lohrmann writes a bimonthly 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 and securing portals.

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 columns here are Dan Lohrmann's own views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the state of Michigan's official positions.

Recent Awards:
2011 Technology Leadership Award: InfoWorld
Premier 100 IT Leader for 2010: Computerworld magazine
2009 Top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers: Government Technology magazine
Public Official of the Year: Governing magazine — November 2008
CSO of the Year: SC Magazine — April 2008
Top 25 in Security Industry: Security magazine — December 2007
Compass Award: CSO Magazine — March 2007
Information Security Executive of the Year: Central Award 2006