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New Wyoming CISO Sets to Work Amid Increased National Cybersecurity Concerns

For first time, state technologists have asked the Legislature to include specific funding for cybersecurity in the budget.

Wyoming’s new chief information security officer, Arlen Fletcher, started work last week, taking over an increasingly vital position within state government as a series of high-profile breaches and hacks that continue to raise worldwide concerns about cybersecurity.

This is something that Fletcher and Wyoming Chief Information Officer Tony Young are well aware of, noting in a conversation with Government Technology that Fletcher will be reviewing the entirety of the state’s current cybersecurity environment, making recommendations for improvements as he sees fit and just generally working toward a better defense plan now that he is on board.

Wyoming has done some formal governance to create a road map for addressing cybersecurity and, as Fletcher begins work, much of that is still in the implementation phase, but an operational security team has been put in place.

Young also said that for the first time ever, there is a line item for cybersecurity funding in the budget being considered by the state Legislature. In past years, Young and Wyoming’s Department of Enterprise Technology Services have relied on existing funds or repurposing other moneys to fortify cyberdefenses. This year, however, they’re asking for $2 or $3 million specifically to fund tools and training for cybersecurity. In addition, they are working on a new RFP for 2018 that seeks to revisit the cybersecurity awareness training they provide other state agencies, exploring whether they are getting maximum return for their efforts.

“Cybersecurity is the cause du jour right now with Yahoo and Equifax and all the others,” Young said. “It’s on everybody’s mind and it’s in everybody’s thought process. Cybersecurity is the thing that keeps CIOs and CISOs up at night.”

Wyoming is facing many of the same challenges as other states, such as legacy systems that are in need of upgrades to better defend against cyberthreats. Funding is also a problem. Financial concerns abound in Wyoming, a state that derives most of its revenue from the mineral and energy industries, both of which have been down as of late. With this in mind, it may be difficult to get additional funding for critical infrastructure and cybersecurity — even with the increased public attention.

Fletcher, who began work with Young in the Wyoming Department of Enterprise Technology Services on Nov. 1, comes to state government following a nearly five-year stint at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. He brings almost two decades of experience in information security to the role, with stints in both higher education and the private sector. In addition to his time at Gonzaga, Fletcher has previously helmed information security for the University of Denver.

“It’s going to take a little bit to understand where all the moving pieces are and get all those straight in my head to formulate a plan going forward,” Fletcher said. “I’m excited to be here, and I’m looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead of us. I think we can make some significant differences for the state of Wyoming in cybersecurity.”

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.