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Arkansas CISO Gary Vance Talks Early Progress, Long-Term Goals

By Julia Edinger, GovTech

Gary Vance stepped into the role of Arkansas’ chief information security officer in April 2021 after the departure of Nolan Leatherwood. In the months following his appointment, he has set his sights on securing the state data center and training personnel to spot threats.

He was originally hired by the state in March 2021 as a senior security architect to manage the security platform of the state’s new data center, according to Alex Johnston, chief of staff for the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, part of the Division of Information Systems (DIS).

“My No. 1 priority is to improve the overall security posture and maturity of studying cyber defense practices and capabilities,” Vance told Government Technology.

As CISO, his responsibilities have shifted, but he is still focused on the data center modernization effort and is working on building its integrated security framework, which he hopes will be implemented early next year and fully operational by the third quarter.

Another key focus is building cybersecurity awareness throughout the government. With phishing emails ever on the rise, he underlined the importance of security awareness, training and policies to combat the challenge.

He will draw on his 24 years of experience in cybersecurity, which includes a variety of roles in the private sector — most recently, with Acxiom.

“It’s very fulfilling, because I really do feel like we’re making a difference, and that we are protecting state critical infrastructure and state sensitive data,” Vance said.

He noted that state agencies are faced with challenges in recruiting skilled cyber professionals, as they often are not able to offer the salaries candidates might find with private companies.

Read the full article HERE.

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