Chris Buse, the state of Minnesota’s first chief information security officer (CISO), was named Public Sector Visionary of the Year at the Cyber Security Summit on Oct. 12.
The Cyber Security Summit, held in Minneapolis, is a meeting of IT thought leaders who hail from all over the Midwest. More than 500 people attended this year’s event. Buse, who became CISO eight years ago, said he grimaced a little when he accepted the award because his sole presence on the stage did not represent the many IT workers who made up his team. In an interview with MeriTalk, he stated that it felt a little disingenuous to take all the credit when a group of people contributed to cybersecurity success throughout the state.
“A successful cybersecurity program has nothing to do with me as an individual. It’s not an individual sport; it’s a team sport,” Buse said. “I made sure to say I was accepting on behalf of our team.”
When Buse joined Minnesota’s IT office as CISO, he said that most of the agencies across the state had no protective measures on the cybersecurity front. Over his tenure, Buse and his team have finally reached a point where all cybersecurity professionals across the 78 agencies are operating based on the same guiding framework.
He said that one of the biggest challenges he faces is compiling proper resources for agencies to improve cybersecurity measures and update their outdated systems. Buse said that educating policymakers on the importance of modernized IT is key in ensuring proper funds for these initiatives.
In addition to educating policymakers, Buse also said he frequently works to inform young people interested in IT on the opportunities the state government has to offer. Buse delivers guest lectures at colleges and universities and his office sponsors the Scholarship for Service program, where the IT department funds a student’s school tuition in exchange for two years of service. At the Cyber Security Summit, Buse hosted a breakfast where he met with young people interested in cybersecurity jobs.
“This has always been a passion of mine. I want to have an ongoing presence with college faculties,” Buse said. “If you’re a security leader and you’re not getting out there and speaking to colleges and universities, then you’re not doing your job. We have to get young people to look at government as employers of choice.”