Vermont appoints former Secret Service agent as new cybersecurity chief

Vermont Chief Information Officer Denise Reilly-Hughes announced that John Toney, a former Secret Service special agent, will head the state's cybersecurity initiatives.
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Vermont Chief Information Officer Denise Reilly-Hughes on Monday announced the appointment of John Toney, a former Secret Service special agent, as the state’s new chief information security officer.

Toney is tasked with developing strategies to integrate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence into the state’s digital services and operations. According to the state government, Toney has two decades of experience in cybersecurity and specializes in incident response, threat intelligence and security operations.

According to Vermont’s announcement, he served as the first global chief information security officer for the electric wholesaler City Electric Supply, where he was tasked with safeguarding information for an international enterprise based in Dallas. 


“Effective security is more than an IT responsibility — it’s a team effort,” said Reilly-Hughes, who also serves as secretary for the state’s Agency of Digital Services. “We are fortunate to have John help in advancing Vermont’s security priorities of protecting state services and Vermonters.”

Toney joins Vermont’s Agency of Digital Services as more sophisticated cyberattacks against state and local governments are on the rise. In February, Change Healthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, experienced a widespread cyberattack that impacted health care providers, insurers and policyholders across the country, including Vermont Medicaid, MVP Health Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and Cigna.

“It’s no secret that everyone is facing increasing cybersecurity threats, including state government,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in a press statement. “It’s critical we are vigilant and prepared, and John brings a wealth of experience to help lead our efforts.”

Toney spent 10 years as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, specializing in network intrusion crimes and critical systems protection. He served on protection details at the White House, U.S. Naval Observatory and Department of Homeland Security, according to the announcement.

“My mission is to build healthy, inclusive, and highly effective security teams that protect assets, individuals, and reputation,” Toney wrote in his LinkedIn bio.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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