For obvious reasons, cybersecurity professionals are reluctant to speak too much about their methods and techniques. It’s a field that, by necessity, is cloaked in secrecy. So when the state government gets a chance to recognize those professionals’ accomplishments, we’ll take that opportunity to shine a spotlight on them as well. 

This week, the 2019 Cybersecurity Education Summit Leadership Awards were presented as part of Wednesday’s State of California Cybersecurity Education Summit 2019 in Sacramento. The awards were presented by the California Cybersecurity Integration Center, which is made up of the California Department of Technology, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California Highway Patrol and the California Military Department. These awards recognize individuals and teams in California state government organizations for their outstanding contributions, best practices and works of distinction in information security. Following are the categories, the winners and a brief description provided by the agencies.

Information Security Innovation Award

This award was given to a team that successfully worked together to foster a culture of security, showed leadership through tools, procedures and processes and implemented an innovative solution. The winning team was from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Office of Internal Affairs Forensic Analysis and Support Team (FAST) Lab: Sergio Calvillo and Ken Kojima. “As a joint effort between the CDCR Office of Internal Affairs and the CDCR ISO Cyber Security Intelligence & Operations Center (SIOC), the Agency stood up a lab in July 2019 to support departmental forensic needs. This lab is used to conduct forensic analysis for the purposes of gathering evidence in support of investigation requests submitted to OIA through various avenues.”

Excellence in Privacy Award

This award honors an individual or team that demonstrated leadership on innovation in privacy. The winner was the Privacy Threshold Assessment and Privacy Impact Assessment Template Development Team: Debra Castanon of the Department of General Services, Katrina Yang-Fuentes of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Laurie Rhea of the Franchise Tax Board, Judy Chan of the Employment Development Department, and Seth Jentzsch of the Department of Health Care Services. “This team of privacy minded employees from their various departments developed the Privacy Threshold Assessment (PTA) and Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). The template was recently added into California State policy as SAM 5310.8 and SIMM 5310-C in August 2019. The team researched dozens of assessment documents used by state agencies, federal governments and private industry to come up with a solution for the State of California.”

Cybersecurity Champion Award

This award honors the individual or team that promotes and fosters security awareness in program and business areas. There was a tie for the winning entries: Lt. Col. James L. Parsons of the California Military Department, and Bruce Henry of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Under Lt. Col. Parsons's leadership, the Cyber Network Defense has developed a series of tactics, techniques and procedures designed to provide direct cybersecurity assistance to the larger state family. The many programs and support services developed under his guidance include the Initial Incident Response capability provided to organizations, deploying resources to multiple state agencies over the past five years. Bruce Henry is the technical manager over one of the largest platforms within CDCR. When the opportunity arose to lead a strategic management initiative for the agency, he immediately volunteered to lead the Security Champion and Awareness effort. Bruce successfully built a champions program that aims to take CDCR staff outside of the Information Security Office to meet regularly to work on a variety of security-based efforts.”

Rookie of the Year Award

This award honors and encourages a newcomer who is expanding knowledge, building skills and demonstrating initiative in information security. The winner is Rafael Diaz of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. “Rafael deserves the Rookie of the Year award for putting together a strategy, plan and roadmap for cybersecurity for the Agricultural Relations Board. Rafael completed an impressive list of accomplishments that in less than a year closed almost all gaps and identified and reduced risk.”

California State Information Security Officer of the Year Award

This award recognizes the outstanding Information Security Officer or Agency Information Security Officer who demonstrates outstanding leadership by developing future IT leaders and creating strategies to promote information sharing and collaboration within their own organization or among government organizations. The winner was Karl Kopper of the California Department of Transportation. “Karl Kopper is aggressively closing significant gaps in the Caltrans security landscape. New technologies such as Autonomous Vehicles, Vehicle to Vehicle and Vehicle to Infrastructure are sweeping across the Transportation Industry and need to be secured to provide a safe transportation environment. Karl’s leadership skills contribute to a change in the security culture and develops secure solutions for Caltrans. Karl has made several significant strides across Caltrans over the last 12 months: groundbreaking Employee Risk Monitoring System, pioneering Desktop Security, enhanced Cybersecurity Awareness Training, additional 7X24 Security Monitoring, and security BCP Funding.”