Cyber a top concern for Utah CIO


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Utah has seen the number of cyber attacks on its networks increase from about one million per day this time last year to more than 70 million per day last month, so it’s no wonder that security is the number one priority for state Chief Information Officer Mark VanOrden these days.

VanOrden said they come from everywhere, including other nations, organized crime and anarchists who just want to make government look bad.

“They are very creative and very smart,” VanOrden said in an interview with StateScoop.

To keep pace and keep the state’s information secure, VanOrden has undertaken a few steps since becoming the CIO in October of last year.

First, he hired a new chief information security officer who comes with 15 years of experience from Deloitte to lead the security effort. The state also created a security council made up of five members of the governor’s cabinet that talk monthly about the security issues facing Utah and how to best combat them.

The members then talk to their counterparts throughout the government to help the state as a whole become more security aware.

“Security is a moving target,” VanOrden said. “It’s something we always need to keep focused on or it could get away from us.”

Security is key considering the more than 1,000 online services that Utah provides to its citizens. VanOrden quotes a University of Utah study that said the state saves $13 per online transaction as there is less of a need for infrastructure to support in-person transactions.

The citizens of Utah have responded to the online services. The state’s web pages generate about 1.2 million unique visitors, almost half of the state’s 2.8 million population.

“We’re always looking to improve our online services, but in general we are ahead of the curve when it comes to them,” VanOrden said.

To help those services keep improving, VanOrden is pushing to make them more mobile accessible as well. He said that in 2015 there are predictions that half of all online traffic will come from mobile devices, something he wants to be ready for, although mobile is not just for the state’s citizens. He points to Utah’s Division of Risk Management that is now using iPads for its inspections and audits and has been able to cut down drastically on the length of some of its processes.

Another major web push is in helping those with disabilities. VanOrden said Utah is working with the state chapter of the National Federation of the Blind to help improve the state’s web pages to work with technologies used by those with disabilities.

Other big projects Utah is working on:

  • The state just began rewriting its Medicaid management system, likely a four-year project, VanOrden said.
  • Utah is also doing a rewrite of its motor vehicle system as well as its job matching website, which now does approximately 11 million job referrals per month. “The site was created in 2002 and was never built for this kind of work, as well as being able to handle the advances in mobile devices,” VanOrden said.
  • Over the next three to four years, the state will roll out VoIP phones lines to its different state offices.
  • Utah is also in the midst of a virtual desktop infrastructure project. To date, about 2,500 desktops have been migrated over. The others – the state has about 23,000 employees – will move over as the state agencies choose.

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cybersecurity, Deloitte, Health IT, iPads, Mark VanOrden, Medicaid, Open Source, Software, States, Tech News, Utah