2020 Election: DNC in Milwaukee Ups the Ante for Wisconsin

Chief Information Officer David Cagigal says Wisconsin has a responsibility to help locals with cybersecurity. But the state has its own unique pressure related to the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee next July.

Wisconsin Chief Information Officer David Cagigal
David Kidd/Government Technology
Like many of his peers, Wisconsin Chief Information Officer David Cagigal says it's impossible to erase all vulnerability when it comes to cybersecurity.

"None of us would ever say we've guaranteed that we're where we need to be and that we're protected and nothing will ever happen," he told Government Technology at last month's annual NASCIO conference in Nashville, Tenn., but he's even more concerned about current threats to local government. 

Given their limitations in funding and expertise, the state has issued a set of guidelines for localities to follow to better protect themselves. Recommendations pertain to strong password policies, equipment patches, backups and training on cybersecurity awareness.

"Some of them have been attacked by ransomware and we've been able to help them on a number of occasions, whether it was a small city, a large city, even some of our schools, even a state agency that was impacted, we've been able to help them," he said.

But the state has an even bigger cybersecurity challenge ahead. Milwaukee, Wis., is the site of the Democratic National Convention in July 2020. The high-profile event will be the place where the party names its nominee to challenge President Trump in the presidential election next fall.

"All eyes are on the state of Wisconsin, both from a physical security and a cybersecurity point of view," Cagigal said.

Eight million dollars in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding has been allocated to the state to help ensure the security of its voting systems. And a number of partners are part of the effort: local, state and federal government, including the National Guard, Department of Justice, and others.

"Needless to say, we're spending a lot of time on cybersecurity," he concluded.

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter. Follow @GovTechNoelle
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