Florida names new CISO amid struggles to keep cybersecurity staff

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Florida Chief Information Officer James Grant announced in a press release this week that the state has hired Jeremy Rodgers, a longtime tech industry professional and veteran of U.S. Cyber Command, as the state’s new chief information security officer.

Rodgers will join the Florida Digital Service, the year-and-a-half-old agency Grant’s led since August 2020, at a time when it’s struggled to hold onto key personnel, including many cybersecurity staff who’ve quit six-figure salaries in recent months.

A press release from the Florida Department of Management Services, the Florida Digital Services’ parent agency, stated that Rodgers’ “20-plus years of industry experience will be invaluable in expanding Florida’s cybersecurity initiatives.” According to the release, Rodgers has spent decades at a “international information technology company,” as well as 10 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve, which included a stint with Cyber Command in Fort Meade, Maryland, where he served as an operations mission lead.

Florida officials did not respond to requests for comment about Rodgers’ appointment, and while the press release does not identify Rodgers’ private-sector employer, its description of his experience matches a LinkedIn profile for a Jeremy Rodgers  — living in Boca Raton — who has worked for IBM in a variety of software engineering and cybersecurity roles since 2001, most recently as a public-sector security architect.

“The depth and breadth of Jeremy’s experience makes him uniquely qualified to lead our cybersecurity team and implement additional innovations across the enterprise,” Grant said in the press release.

The Florida Digital Service has struggled to hold onto personnel since its inception, particularly those who work on cybersecurity. The agency was created after the state’s fourth reorganization of its IT governance since 2005. And while the agency — originally envisioned to be a user-experience shop akin to the U.S. Digital Service — was also given oversight of the state’s cybersecurity functions last year, it has reportedly continued to fall short in that area.

The Miami Herald reported last month that the Florida Digital Service has failed to spend any of the $30 million state lawmakers authorized last year for threat assessments, infrastructure hardening and cyber hygiene training, though Grant did spend nearly $400,000 on decorating a cybersecurity office with new furniture and touchscreen 4K screens.

And like Grant, who resigned from the Florida House of Representatives in 2020 to lead the Florida Digital Service, Rodgers is also a former politician, having served as a deputy mayor and city councilman in Boca Raton.

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Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Florida, James Grant
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