As the new year gets underway, MeriTalk is looking back to some of the top innovators in Federal, state, and local cybersecurity. At the Symantec Government Symposium, MeriTalk’s founder Steve O’Keeffe sat down with the 2017 Cyber Award winners to discuss their success, and what they learned as they worked to stay ahead of cyber threats.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-Miss.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson serves on the Congressional Election Cybersecurity Taskforce, which developed and proposed legislation to improve election security. In his interview, Thompson spoke candidly about the need to get everyone in the Federal government on the same page, which can be difficult given agency cultural differences, and to facilitate continuous dialogue with industry players to learn from their expertise.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, (R-Texas)

Rep. John Ratcliffe proposed the Cybersecurity Crime Act, which Pres. Trump signed into law last November. The act established training to educate law enforcement and court officials about using digital evidence in prosecuting crime. Ratcliffe also discussed the need for a larger IT workforce at the state and local level, how technology can help fill the ongoing IT workforce shortage, and the importance of setting ambitious technology goals.

 John McCaffrey, CIO, Westchester County, N.Y.

John McCaffrey discussed how municipalities can capitalize on the data gathered from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. He also addressed his efforts to establish shared services, so municipalities don’t needlessly duplicate functions.

Robert O’Connor, CISO, Maricopa County, Ariz.

One of Robert O’Connor’s biggest projects involved securing mobile devices for county constituents and making sure that they can access cloud-based applications. O’Connor takes a user-oriented approach to developing and deploying technology solutions. His mobile devices project came from his observation that Maricopa County citizens are increasingly reliant on mobile devices, rather than more traditional desktops or laptops. In 2018, O’Connor wants to delve into IoT to explore how connected devices can improve citizens’ lives in Maricopa County.

These awardees work across all levels of government to make the lives of their constituents better and safer – safer elections, safer streets, and more. Their hard work in 2017 and foresight into future technologies demonstrate innovative ways to tackle the top cyber issues of 2018.

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