The Minnesota IT Services agency last week named John Israel, the state’s interim chief information security officer, to the post on a full-time basis. Israel, who’s been with the agency for 15 years, had been filling in as CISO since last October, following the departure of Rohit Tandon for the private sector.
Along with the CISO title, Israel will also serve as assistant commissioner of MNIT, as the agency expands a cybersecurity operation that, officials said, is leaning into a whole-of-state strategy. He’s responsible for overseeing cyber teams across the executive branch, and will also sit on a 15-person board managing Minnesota’s funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s state and local cyber grant program.
“Minnesota’s whole-of-state approach is critical to protecting the information of our citizens, residents, and visitors and keeping systems running,” Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes, who leads MNIT and chairs the cyber planning board, said in a press release. “John Israel has experience bringing together all levels of government, critical industry, and public institutions to ensure that cybersecurity is embedded into the work we do to serve Minnesotans.”
In recent years, Minnesota’s cybersecurity programming has been expanded to include a vulnerability disclosure policy for state systems, allowing outside researchers to report potential risks without fear of legal retribution, and an endpoint monitoring service available to county governments, tribal nations and port cities.
The state expects to receive the first round of DHS cyber grant funding later this spring.
Israel joined MNIT as 2008 as a forensic lead, and has been steadily promoted through the agency’s cybersecurity ranks over the years. An MNIT press release credited him as being “instrumental” in establishing the state’s first security operations center and developing the threat intelligence sharing capabilities at the Minnesota Fusion Center in St. Paul.