Improving information flow is a top priority after many offsite government meetings, but how can governments accomplish this in the security space? What internal and cross-boundary sharing models work, and what are the operational benefits?            

Public IT leaders face myriad daily challenges. We must implement best practices, keep legacy systems running, secure wireless networks, boost morale, patch holes, stop bad guys and stay current on technology - all with fewer resources. We can't do this by ourselves.           

Joining the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) provides many operational benefits to state and local governments. The MS-ISAC is a central resource for gathering and sharing cyber-threat information among states and local governments, according to the MS-ISAC Web site. "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has officially recognized the MS-ISAC as the national center for the states to coordinate cyber-readiness and response."            

The MS-ISAC coordinates actions between the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and the states. State-specific ISACs are now being built around the country. Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida already share information with local governments, universities, K-12 schools and other public institutions via state ISAC portals and most other states are establishing ISACs. These state-specific ISACs provide a valuable central resource for information sharing within those states.              

"We wanted to empower states to build information sharing communities within their own states, to encourage collaboration and partnerships between the state and its local governments and education institutions," said William Pelgrin, chair of the MS-ISAC. "By promoting this approach, we are helping enhance the cyber-security posture within each state, and collectively, across the nation."            

Several state ISACs have operated for more than a year now. Michigan holds regular calls to discuss cross-government issues on hot security topics, such as denial-of-service attacks, botnets and spam. As in most states, Michigan shares network control and responsibility on many critical services between federal, state and local entities. We can now share information among these groups more securely and encourage even more local participation. Some types of information regularly shared via the secure portal are: direct access to cyber-security threat information from the state;access to security awareness materials and policy templates;secure messaging capabilities among ISAC members;time-sensitive information on current Internet incidents and metrics; andmaps of cyber-alert statuses across the U.S. and within the states.            

In addition to daily operational benefits, participation in the MS-ISAC and state ISACs provides unique opportunities to get involved in and learn from global strategic initiatives like cyber-exercises. Several states participated in Cyber Storm I in February 2006, and Cyber Storm II is slated for March 2008 with 10 states participating. These exercises are great occasions to test cyber-defenses and put training into practice.            

It's free to join. In fact, the MS-ISAC worked with the federal government to facilitate bulk purchasing of encryption products that should save significant money.              

"By allowing for this multigovernment procurement," said Pelgrin, "those entities which buy off the contract will be implementing sound best practice standards which they might not otherwise have implemented."            

Not surprisingly, after the Northeast 2003 blackout, our technology team's first priority was to improve internal and external communication during emergencies. It may sound easy, but the hardest part is knowing who to call given various scenarios. We still struggle with some of the same questions today, but things are improving.                 

The Internet radically changed how the public sector delivers services. Securing "govspace," as I call it, requires us to partner in new ways. No matter what you've done in the past, I encourage public CIOs to get involved in their state ISAC efforts. We all need help, and we all need to help each other.     

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