Insights on Enterprise IT Encryption

By Dr. Jordon Shaw, Director of IT, City of Franklin, TN

Dr. Jordon Shaw, Director of IT, City of Franklin, TN

Technological Trends and Challenges

Today, signature-based antivirus as well as hardware and software are becoming more prominent. We really have to think about our portable devices and data at rest. The federal government many years ago lost several laptops containing important information, which created a need to have data at rest encryption. In the City of Franklin, when any device is taken outside our network and found by someone that it shouldn't be, the data on the device remains secure as it is encrypted and can be recovered.

Security Needs and Funding

The information that a government agency gathers everyday while running a city, whether big or small, requires security. Every state has some large and affluent metropolitan areas as well as a lot of rural areas that do not have enough resources for security protection. Receiving funds from the federal or state level authorities to initiate discussions and strengthen security can be a good start. It is difficult to sell security solutions when there are proper security measures in place because no security threats are perceived. We have received funding through research on the security threats that people have dealt with by not making use of appropriate security solutions. It is really about providing factual information and not being opinionated. This way the executives in charge of making decisions about funding can get informed about the actual reason behind the request for funding.

"The information that a government agency gathers everyday while running a city, whether big or small, requires security"

Functions and Future of Encryption Solutions

Efficient Encryption Solution Providers must gather factual information about the lack of online security and thereby work towards identifying things they haven’t identified before in the security domain. They should provide a security platform along with a demonstration of its operation, and a trial model to familiarize users with the solution while learning more about the users’ problems and situation. City of Franklin was actually able to create a security division within the IT department and the division’s entire job is to focus on security threats and encryption. They provide recommendations as to where the IT team needs to strengthen their skills for staying ahead of the game as much as possible. Recently in a project, our IT team securely connected networks over fiber and implemented proper firewalls to block unwanted traffic in all the small cities within Williamson County, including City of Franklin. As with anything in technology, infrastructure also changes very quickly. Signature-base is really where I see the trend growing because the days of providing definitions and waiting for updates to reach everyone who requires online security, have really gone. Ensuring better performance of encryption solutions requires adapting with time.

Leadership and Work Culture

In the City of Franklin, any new IT solution to be implemented is evaluated by executives from our organization. To provide optimal service, the city’s IT personnel are encouraged to acquire extensive and deep knowledge about their work, and discuss it. As Director of IT, I also collaborate with people having the required technological expertise to ensure we’re on the same page while working. Hence, effort is made to involve people and experts who work on encryption and enterprise security, daily. Why are all the people in the position they're in? Steve Jobs said we don't hire people to tell them what to do. We hire people so that they can tell us what to do. We are in our current position because of our past experiences. One person cannot be a subject matter expert in every area and hence, it is very important to rely on a people who are subject matter experts in different areas of technology.