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Oklahoma’s Chief Operating Officer Addresses Cybersecurity

Oklahoma fends off millions of cyber attacks each day, and the problem became more important to address during the pandemic, the state’s chief operating officer said Monday during a visit to Enid, Okla.

Cybersecurity lock on a background of passwords
(TNS) — Oklahoma fends off millions of cyberattacks each day, the state’s chief operating officer said Monday during a visit to Enid.

Steve Harpe, chief operating officer of Oklahoma and executive director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), spoke Monday to Enid Rotary Club. He stepped in to speak last minute for the previously scheduled first lady Sarah Stitt, who had to cancel after a death in the family over the weekend.

Harpe has been working in state government for two years. He oversees cabinet secretaries, state agencies and serves on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet as deputy secretary of digital transformation and administration.

A state release detailing Harpe’s recent role changes and accomplishments said he has led projects “including Oklahoma’s disaster recovery project to upgrade technology and invest in a secondary data center, which ensured protection of state data and valuable digital information in the face of cyber or natural disasters.” At OMES, Harpe “established ‘Resiliency’ as the state cybersecurity strategy to emphasize not just weathering attacks but learning from them and coming back stronger,” he said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the state had to quickly adjust to a digitally dependent work force, schooling needs and ever-present national and international cybersecurity threats.

Harpe said the state fends off more than 36 million cyber attacks a day. So, the state has done a good job over the last year in its security measure improvements, as well as fortifying state agencies’ security and data information.

“When building a business-first state, trying to be more open to business, it drives the perception that ‘you’re not really caring about security.’ That’s absolutely not true,” Harpe said. “The state has gone through energy, unemployment, social crises and a pandemic, which we are still going through. The last year and a half brought a lot of learning for us to run state government better but also how to deal with things in a crisis.”

The state is preparing to receive $1.9 billion from the American Rescue Plan, with half now and half later. These funds will be distributed to counties and municipalities based on population.

Harpe said the best thing residents can do is to make sure they are working with local government to use that money to contribute to the greater good of the community — since he said there is the opportunity now to meet more local needs and upgrade facilities, sewage and water systems, and broadband.

© 2021 the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.