Jeff Franklin, who stepped down last week after nearly 11 years as Iowa’s statewide chief information security officer, has joined the office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate as chief cybersecurity officer, Pate’s office said Thursday. In his new role, Franklin will lead efforts to protect election infrastructure across Iowa’s 99 counties.
The move should be a rather smooth one for Franklin, who has previously worked with Pate’s office on election-security initiatives, including the enrollment of every county auditor’s office in at least one cybersecurity service offered by the state’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, which had been Franklin’s home for the past decade. The menu of services includes vulnerability scanning, intrusion detection, malware prevention and employee-training courses.
The partnership between OCIO and Pate’s office has been awarded by both the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and the National Association of Secretaries of State, the latter of which Pate currently serves as president.
“Iowa is a leader in cybersecurity for elections in this country and with bringing Jeff Franklin onto our team, I’m even more confident that we’ll be ready for the 2020 elections,” Pate said according to a press release from his office.
Franklin also served as Iowa’s interim chief information officer for eight months last year following the departure of Robert Von Wolffradt. Von Wolffradt’s successor, Annette Dunn, told StateScoop last week that the CISO position will remain vacant during the search for Franklin’s replacement.
Along with hiring Franklin, Pate’s office has also recently hired a dedicated election cybersecurity adviser and an information security analyst.
“Secretary Pate is committed to protecting the integrity of our elections,” Franklin said in the press release. “Staying ahead of the curve with best cybersecurity practices is paramount to our success. It’s a privilege to be part of his team and to continue to serve Iowans in this capacity.”
Despite the efforts to solidify its cybersecurity posture, Pate’s office this week has had to spend much of its time putting distance between itself and the Iowa Democratic Party’s presidential caucuses, in which it plays no role.
“Although the caucuses are the kickoff of the presidential nominating process, they are not elections,” Pate said Tuesday, adding that he supports the Iowa Democrats taking their time to count the results of their privately run contest.