Parson and Ashcroft highlight Missouri’s readiness to defend against cyber threats

Governor Mike Parson and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft discuss Missouri’s election security preparedness in advance of November mid-term elections

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Thursday, Governor Mike Parson held a briefing with Missouri Secretary of State Jay, Ashcroft; Missouri’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO), Mike Cheles; the President of the Missouri County Clerk’s Association, Cathy Daniels and a representative from the Department of Homeland Security to discuss Missouri’s readiness to defend against cyber threats and to prepare for election security in advance of next Tuesday’s mid-term election.

“The state of Missouri is committed to protecting the data of the public,” Parson said. “Missouri is on the leading edge across the nation, providing the tools and resources necessary to ensure our state workers are prepared to identify and defend against cyber threats.”

Parson has instructed the Missouri Office of Administration’s Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to continuously think of new ways to train state employees on cybersecurity. OCS has recently moved to a new cybersecurity training provider, which offers more flexibility in developing training content, and will lead to further improving cybersecurity training for state employees.

OCS administers online end-user awareness training to state employees with interactive monthly training, which covers topics like phishing, password strength and physical security. The office also launches fake phishing campaigns against state employees to assess their end-user awareness and provide additional education.

Ashcroft detailed his proactive efforts and collaboration with Missouri election authorities, preparing for next Tuesday’s mid-term elections. Since taking office, Ashcroft has become a national leader in election security issues, working with Secretaries across the country in hosting the first National Election Security Summit in St. Louis.

“I appreciate Gov. Parson’s commitment to cybersecurity and his recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month,” Ashcroft said. “We will continue to work hand-in-hand to maintain and improve our systems and ensure our election infrastructure is secure.”

OCS is an award-winning government cybersecurity office and has been recognized as a national leader in cybersecurity. Most recently, OCS was a finalist and the overall winner for the 2018 Cybersecurity Award at the 30th Annual National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Awards.

“Thanks to Secretary Ashcroft’s leadership, Missourians should be confident in the integrity of our elections,” Parson said. “And, just like Jay has been saying all along ‘If you’re registered to vote, you can vote.'”