Eric Brown Receives '10 Best CISOs of 2021' Honor
Passionate about Security
Eric Brown has been commended for how he runs the Security organization for Ramsey County, which is the second-largest county in Minnesota with 552,352 residents. Ramsey County employs over 5,000 staff members, including full-time employees, consultants, contractors, and seasonal workers that help operate the county. It is the Information Security Team's job to ensure that these systems are kept safe. The security organization has enjoyed success by modernizing the county's technology and organizational structure through the retention of our staff, consultants, and vendor partners. "As an organization we are responsible for securing resident data we are entrusted with. This includes a variety of personally identifiable information, healthcare information, criminal justice, and financial data."
The Security Team has been successful mainly due to a close partnership with the other technology teams within Information Services who are responsible for the day to day operations of Infrastructure, platforms, cloud, and desktop environments. Collectively, Information Services includes a diverse group of people passionate about security and are motivated to ply their graft to keep the systems and environment safe.
This motivation comes to Eric through his various inspirations, which he takes from a variety of leaders. "Right now, I'm inspired by Jack Welch's philosophy on change. I believe that in order to serve our residents as a competent security organization we must continually innovate and change. Change makes some people uncomfortable, but not me," adds Eric. "We talk about it a lot as an Information Security Team, if we aren't pliable, if we aren't always learning and adapting, we won't be able to keep up with the threats in the environment. Blue teaming is some art, science and some luck. One has to have two of the three all the time. When talking through an information security breach prevention strategy, a former colleague once said - The threat actors only have to be right once, we have to be right every time."
It is pertinent to mention, Ramsey County serves its residents through several departments, including Health and Wellness, Economic Growth and Community Investment, The County Manager's office and Strategic Team, Safety and Justice, and Information and Public Records. The Information Security Team serves the mission to make everyone in Ramsey County more productive Securely by providing Information Security services and governance to the many departments serving Ramsey County Residents.
One of the programs available for residents in Ramsey County is Ramsey Connected (ramseycounty.us/RamseyConnected), an initiative designed to ensure all Ramsey County residents have access to low-cost internet and computers, as well as the skills to use them. The Information Security Team conducts webinars to staff and residents throughout the year on various information security topics, such as Personal Security online, avoiding credit fraud, and The Mindset of an Attacker. Ramsey County believes internet access is a basic need, and low-cost internet should be available to all residents. While Ramsey County is not an internet service provider, they serve as a promoter, connector, and partner through our Ramsey Connected program. These roles share information from other government, for-profit and nonprofit organizations to Ramsey County residents and community organizations. "We also make connections between residents, community organizations, federal and state government and for-profit technology organizations, and serve as a partner to share our knowledge of community needs, bring impacted communities to the table, and share and develop ideas and strategies," adds Eric, who serves on the Tech Equity Core team representing technology and security efforts.
Information Services has had numerous technology interns that come from resident programs like Workforce Solutions. Workforce Solutions is an innovative approach to employment assistance whose mission is to strengthen the economic success of their community through personalized and effective workforce development. Recently several graduates were hired into Ramsey County Information Services from a local technology academy dedicated to educating community members with the skills and social networks required to overcome barriers to economic opportunity.
"I enjoy working with and learning from individuals from all walks of life. As a leader in technology and information security, I firmly believe that empowered individuals from diverse backgrounds improve information security," elucidates Eric. "Today's younger generations have grown up in a world where many basic services take place online. The number of cyber threats we face as a County and individuals continue to increase year over year. To combat these threats and mitigate risk, we need to continually evolve, teach to others what we know, and integrate the new generations into a security forward mindset."