In 2008, Flint Waters appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about the dangers of online sexual predators. At the time, Waters was a police investigator and chief of Wyoming’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. He was there to discuss software he developed to track down online predators by identifying computers that were trading child pornography on file-sharing networks — software that was used in Operation Peer Precision, which has been described as “the largest undercover operation in the world.”
During his time with ICAC, Waters found more than 600,000 computers containing illegal pornography. He has been recognized as an expert in Internet child exploitation in state and federal court, and has testified before Congress on the challenges of protecting children from violence and exploitation.
When he became CIO of Wyoming last November, Waters brought this passion for protecting children — and networks — to his new role.
“In the past, the state stood up open government wireless access points with no transaction logging or authentication,” Waters said in an interview last year, “and I know some of those were used by predators in an area where they are granted anonymity. In a sense, you have a business decision that provides a statute of limitations with these types of crimes, because if you don’t catch the individual at the computer, they walk away and there’s often no way to prosecute them.”
Under his watch, the state is far more security-conscious. “I was the CTO for 46 ICAC task forces around the country, so I’m used to operating with disparate government requirements,” Waters said. “The solutions that I built back then are in 34 countries now, so I have a fair bit of experience in dealing with large-scale enterprise solutions.”
Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.