Longtime Pennsylvania CISO Erik Avakian to step down

Erik Avakian (Scoop News Group)

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Pennsylvania Chief Information Security Officer Erik Avakian on Friday announced he plans to step down from his role later this month to join the private sector.

Avakian has spent the last 16 years with the commonwealth, spending the past 12-and-a-half years as its top cybersecurity official. In a letter sent through the National Association of State Chief Information Officer’s messaging system, Avakian looked back on his time in public service.

“This job has provided me with an incredible opportunity to serve, work with an outstanding team, and to build and foster relationships that will endure for years to come,” he wrote. “Throughout my tenure and over the last 12 1/2 years as state CISO, I feel humbled and blessed for all the partnerships, collaboration, improvements, and accomplishments we have all achieved working together, enabling the business, reducing risk, and making things more secure along the way.”

Avakian did not name the company he plans to join, but said his departure from state government is “not a goodbye.” His last day with the state is Oct. 21.

“I look forward to talking to you all in the future along the next phase of my career journey,” he wrote. “And for those of you attending the NASCIO Annual next week, have a great time!”

In addition to providing security services across the state government and to local governments across Pennsylvania, Avakian also helped secure the state’s citizen-services portal, Keystone Login. 

Avakian also in recent years participated in a National Governors Association workshop series targeting critical infrastructure, which he said highlighted the importance that collaboration plays in rallying an effective defense against cyberattacks.

“Cybersecurity, as we all know, in many of our local governments on down may not have the same capabilities or the same available resources to them as folks at the state level, and I think one of the things we’ve focused highly on is relationship building and branching out,” he told StateScoop.

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CISO, Pennsylvania
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