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How states can use zero trust to improve their cybersecurity posture

The path to improving zero trust and cybersecurity resilience among state and local governments can present many challenges — but several support systems are emerging to help security and IT leaders build holistic security strategies.

In a new StateScoop interview, Adam Ford, chief information security officer for the State of Illinois, and Peter Romness, cybersecurity principal at Cisco, highlight modernization initiatives at the state and local government levels.

“Moving to zero trust is imperative as we modernize our security practices. And it requires us all to do a lot of inward-looking and outward-looking; we have to not just understand threats, not just understand nation-state actors, but get into the meat of our organization,” says Ford.

“In Illinois, we’ve worked hard to adopt several zero-trust architecture principles into our cybersecurity practice. Most importantly, we are taking a very serious inventory of our endpoints; we’ve tried to look at the applications running within our environment and work on getting better at master data about our users,” Ford adds.

Romness describes how, although CISA and NIST guidance was initially aimed at federal agencies, the objectives align with state and local governments’ more urgent cybersecurity priorities.

“The concepts that [zero trust] involve are critical to having a resilient infrastructure or organization. The idea that you’re not putting protection around your organization anymore; you’re putting your protection around every asset in your organization,” he says, but “the challenge in much of state and local is just getting started—and realizing the benefits.”

Ford and Romness also explore the grant funding programs that address modernization gaps, helping state and local governments successfully implement parts of the zero-trust architecture or specific zero-trust practices to improve their cybersecurity.

Learn more about improving your organization’s security posture with Cisco.

This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group and StateScoop and underwritten by Cisco.