Kevin Ford

Chief Information Security Officer, North Dakota

North Dakota CISO Kevin Ford
During his time as North Dakota’s chief information security officer (CISO), Kevin Ford has pushed the envelope to make the state a leader in cybersecurity, dramatically improving the state’s ability to combat ever-growing threats.

Efforts include legislation signed into law last year that creates a unified cybersecurity strategy for all sectors of state government and K-12 and higher education, as well as an initiative that increases cybersecurity training and resources for teachers, administrators and students.

Ford has been on the leading edge of a trend in states to serve as a resource to institutions inside and outside of government on cybersecurity matters, and a couple recent efforts provide evidence that he’s on the right track. Last year, he announced that K-12 schools were eligible for anti-malware software at no cost, with installation, licenses and self-service access provided by the state. The software was a key deployment during the pandemic as malware attacks were on the rise, and the protection covered students whether they learned in the classroom or at home.

North Dakota developed several strategies last year to help secure the public sector during the pandemic and in October launched DefeND
, a statewide awareness campaign to educate North Dakotans about the dangers in cyberspace.

“North Dakota is leading an effort to establish automated cybersecurity threat information-sharing and operations that include state, local and tribal partners across the United States,” Ford said in an email. “We are focusing on increasing the sharing of immediately actionable threat intelligence sourced from partners across the nation.”

Ford was recruited by the state in 2019 to take over the role of CISO. He previously served as CISO at CyberGRX, a Denver-based cyber-risk management company.