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Minnesota Promotes Cybersecurity Leader John Israel to CISO

Interim CISO John Israel has been chosen to lead Minnesota's cybersecurity operations long term as the IT department works to build a statewide operations plan. Israel has more than 25 years of experience.

Minnesota CISO John Israel
John Israel
Minnesota IT Services
Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) has a new assistant commissioner and chief information security officer.

John Israel, who has served as the interim CISO since October 2022, has been chosen for the role through a competitive statewide application process.

The announcement comes as Minnesota is working to build a whole-of-state approach to cybersecurity, a statewide plan to fund efforts to protect local and state government organizations. Israel will lead executive branch cybersecurity teams as well as the 15-member Minnesota Cybersecurity Task Force to contribute to the development of a statewide plan to advance cybersecurity.

"Minnesota’s whole-of-state approach is critical to protecting the information of our citizens, residents and visitors and keeping systems running,” said Tarek Tomes, MNIT commissioner and Minnesota's CIO. “John Israel has experience bringing together all levels of government, critical industry and public institutions to ensure that cybersecurity is embedded into the work we do to serve Minnesotans.”

Minnesota school systems have been targeted by multiple attacks this spring, including a ransomware gang that released confidential documents from Minneapolis Public Schools in March, as well as a cybersecurity breach in Rochester Public Schools due to a ransomware attack in April.

Israel has more than 25 years of experience in cybersecurity and IT functions for municipal, county and state entities, including leading IT operations for Washington County, the fifth most populous county in Minnesota. Israel joined MNIT in 2008 and has worked as the agency’s deputy CISO and security operations center leader where he coordinated responses to cyber incidents that occurred across state systems.

In 2019, Israel won the Visionary Security Operations Leader Award for his leadership in developing and fostering strategies to protect critical systems and data.