Cybersecurity, consolidation mature in Alaska as new governor takes office

As Alaska’s new governor takes office, the state’s top cybersecurity official is tightening his focus on maturing IT security practices across the state.

Shannon Lawson, Alaska’s chief information security officer, says he’s using the state’s technology consolidation effort, started under previous Gov. Bill Walker and spearheaded by then-CIO Bill Vajda, as a way to “reign in” cybersecurity activities across different agencies.

“[Consolidation] remains a top priority for the information security office,” Lawson says in a video interview. “We have 15 agencies across the state of Alaska, and we are still trying to reign in some of the independently operated cyber operations.”

As a part of that, Lawson says the state will issue a “pretty significant” request for proposals surrounding its cybersecurity initiatives. He says the RFP is designed to “lay the foundation for true cyber operations for the state.”

The RFP would be the largest state spend on cybersecurity tools in Alaska’s history, Lawson says, and is a shift away from a single-vendor solution the state had in place when Lawson became state CISO last year.

“We’re looking at multi-vendors, vendors that can work well together,” Lawson says. “It gives us the flexibility to change products out. … It’s really going to put us on some solid footing as we mature our organization.”

Lawson on his greatest 2018 accomplishment:

Lawson on his vision for the future:

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the 2018 National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference in San Diego.