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Network News

March 2023
Volume 23, Number 3

From the CIO:

Robert Osmond, Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth
CIO Robert Osmond

We are celebrating our students in Virginia this March, especially those interested in cybersecurity and information technology (IT).

Several of our programs relating to students and education really ramp up this time of year. In case you missed it, we just named our Virginia student finalists in the 2023 Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) Kids Safe Online poster contest. The contest encourages students to share cyber safety messages with their peers, and provides an opportunity for teachers to share that same messaging in their classrooms. If you haven’t had a chance to view the finalists and their work, visit the VITA website.

There’s only a month left for Virginia students in grades 9 through 12 to register for and play CyberStart America. Through CyberStart America, students have access to a free cybersecurity training game, and some students may even qualify for cyber training scholarships up to $3,000. We’ll share more information about the program in the sections below.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of being part of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) student hackathon – an event involving several of Virginia’s elementary schools that promoted coding and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education. It was great to see the students so interested and engaged, and it reminded me of what I love about working in IT. I know that the work that we are all doing here in the Commonwealth is making a difference as we help the millions of people who live and work in Virginia.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to share the field of IT with students of all ages. Stay tuned in the coming months as we share more about how we’re opening VITA’s doors to fresh talent through our internships and associates’ programs. The VITA team is excited to share our passion with the next generation of IT pros.


Robert Osmond, Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth

Initiative updates: website modernization program and messaging migration project

VITA continues to work with our state partners on multiple major initiatives. Here’s an update on where these projects and programs stand: 

  • For the messaging migration project, to date, more than 60 agencies have migrated from the Google platform to Microsoft Office 365. That equates to about 84% of users. 
  • For the website modernization program, a new enterprise architecture standard, the EA Solutions Web Systems Standard, has been published online. The intent of this standard is to guide the management, development, purchase and use of web system resources in the Commonwealth of Virginia (COV). 

Automation helps decrease wait times for onboarding process in Commonwealth of Virginia

VITA’s core infrastructure services team is refining an initiative that has automated various account management activities across the Commonwealth of Virginia, dramatically reducing the wait times related to completion of those activities. 

“The team was able to reduce the time frame to complete the basic onboarding process from five to 10 business days down to less than one business day,” said VITA's IT service management manager Scott Jaeger. “This has enabled faster turn-around of urgent onboarding requests and fulfills the requirement so that a new employee can begin operationally on day one of employment.” 

Jaeger says the initiative came about after customer feedback to VITA indicated that it was taking too long to process onboarding requests. The process was manually intensive, so the team has been leveraging the IT service management tools available to provide full automation where possible. Additionally, the team is establishing the foundation for consistency and repeatability for account management actions.

“We have had great success performing the ‘base onboarding’ tasks. We are now performing analysis and taking action to automate the ‘advanced onboarding’ tasks, such as providing virtual private network (VPN) access, access to security groups and more, as well as assessing the offboarding tasks to ensure compliance and to help reduce security risks in our environment.” said Jaeger. 

“With today’s dependency on readily-available technology for practically every job position, the need to equip a new state police employee as soon as possible is essential,” said Virginia State Police Captain Eric Gowin, commander of the IT division. “State police appreciates the efforts by VITA’s core infrastructure services team to expedite the onboarding process and aiding with the efficiency of state police business practices.”

The VITA team continues to track progress, including time and cost savings; check out the latest numbers in this short video.

New cybersecurity training platform coming to the Commonwealth

As part of the Commonwealth’s continued focus on cybersecurity initiatives, VITA is rolling out a new cybersecurity training platform called KnowBe4.”  

KnowBe4 is one of the world’s largest existing integrated platforms for security awareness training and offers these benefits: 

  • Allows each agency to manage its own training efforts; 
  • Includes real-time reporting capabilities at the agency, secretariat and branch levels for communicating to the administration; and  
  • KnowBe4 is cloud-based and ECOS approved. 

“With more than 20 Commonwealth agencies already using KnowBe4 for employee educational purposes, VITA's security team determined that KnowBe4 platform would not only work well in our enterprise environment, but would also work well for our non-managed agencies,” said VITA Information Security Analyst Tina Gaines. 

Phase one of the KnowBe4 rollout was completed in January, where the platform was tested with the agencies that currently use KnowBe4. Phase two is now underway and is scheduled to be completed in July, with phase three of the rollout scheduled for completion in December. 

For more information or if you have questions, please email  

CyberStart America competition: Time is running out to register and play!

If you haven’t registered your student for the 2022-2023 CyberStart America competition, time is running out! Students in grades 9 through 12 have until Tuesday, April 4, to sign up and play. 

The students can access CyberStart, a free, immersive cybersecurity training game. By playing the game, students can learn more about cybersecurity and build skills that could prepare them for a career in technology. They may also qualify for cyber training scholarships worth over $3,000. 

Students earning a high score in CyberStart will then be invited to apply for a scholarship. Scholarship winners will be announced in early May. 

Information security tips

It would be great if technology could solve all of our cybersecurity problems. We rely on security systems such as antivirus software, firewalls and software updates to protect our devices and data. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to people. According to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of breaches involved the human element, including social engineering attacks, errors and misuse. 

Phishing e-mails continue to be one of the most popular methods of attack used by cybercriminals, but they are not the only method. In this month’s edition of information security tips, we’ll review some additional types of social engineering attacks and what you can do to protect yourself. 

Read February information security tips.