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Michael Gregg

CISO, North Dakota

Michael Gregg, North Dakota CISO
Government Technology/David Kidd
Michael Gregg was appointed chief information security officer of North Dakota in 2021 and was a critical asset in the formation of the Joint Cybersecurity Operations Command Center (J-CSOC), breaking long-standing communications barriers between state government technology leaders during cyber emergencies.

“When I first took this role, I discovered that we get security information from our federal partners — which is great, but when I started speaking with leaders in other states, I discovered that states didn’t talk to each other,” Gregg said.

To create what is now known as the J-CSOC, a law needed to be changed that banned agreements with neighboring states. Gregg moved to change the legislation by working with North Dakota’s governor, lieutenant governor, House and Senate. Once the legalities were resolved, he partnered with state CIOs nationwide to form the J-CSOC and share information in real time about cyber incidents.

During his tenure, Gregg has also been a proponent of embracing AI for repetitive tasks while simultaneously recognizing the importance of leveraging human collaborations and building a strong workforce. To address workforce gaps, Gregg’s department revised job classifications, creating an easier pathway for new hires to break into the security field.

“It’s not uncommon in the security field that a job description might mention that the applicant must have three years of experience and must be a certified Cybersecurity Service Provider, or have acquired other certifications, along with a four-year degree, but that’s just not realistic,” Gregg said. “I partnered with HR to alter those job descriptions so we can hire people with a certification, the experience and only a two-year degree.”

He also partnered with educational institutions to align curriculums with industry needs and promote internships and apprenticeships to retain talent.

Looking toward the future of cybersecurity, Gregg understands that emerging technologies, including AI, will play a pivotal role, both as a tool to enhance security teams and a potential threat from malicious actors. According to Gregg, staying informed through research, discussions with peers and continued training is paramount in navigating the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Ashley Silver is a staff writer for Government Technology. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo and a graduate degree in public relations from Kent State University. Silver is also a published author with a wide range of experience in editing, communications and public relations.