Seattle, Wash., Tuesday, October 12, 2021 — The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has named Texas Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Nancy Rainosek as the recipient of the 2021 Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award. This is the ninth year for the program, which was created to pay homage to Thomas M. Jarrett, past president of NASCIO (2004 – 2005), for his passion for cybersecurity. The award honors state CISOs for exceptional accomplishments in their field. This award evolved from the Thomas M. Jarrett Cybersecurity Scholarship, being renamed in 2020 to reflect the vital role state CISOs hold in state cybersecurity efforts and their deeper involvement with NASCIO.
Nancy was nominated by Texas Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) Amanda Crawford who wrote, “Nancy brought a fresh vision and approach to the statewide CISO Role in Texas. Through her leadership, Texas state agencies, institutions of higher education and local government entities are more focused on cybersecurity and are better prepared to address cyber threats.”
Nancy’s award submission also highlighted her role in the ransomware attack on Texas municipalities in 2019—what would later be known as the largest coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in the United States at the time. Through a statewide cyber incident response plan, all affected local government entities were back up and running in five days – an unprecedented feat for the size of the attack.
NASCIO President and Commissioner and CIO for the State of New Hampshire Denis Goulet said, “The Texas cyber event in 2019 was the first of its kind and changed the game for state and local entities. Texas’ efforts, led by Nancy Rainosek, set the standard for how states can and will respond in the future.”
In addition to coordinating the response to the 2019 attack, Nancy has also implemented multi-factor authentication for state agencies, cybersecurity awareness training, phishing simulations, secure developer coding training, managed security services, elections security assessments for Texas counties and is in the planning phase of implementing endpoint detection and response for state agency endpoints. Nancy has also partnered with Texas high schools and the Texas Parent Teachers Association to get the next generation of cybersecurity professionals started. Finally, Nancy has also established the Texas Information Sharing and Analysis Organization which is a partnership between DIR and several Texas universities to share threat intelligence information and education with all Texas critical infrastructure organizations.
To view past recipients of the Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award, visit nascio.org/awards.
Director of Policy and Research
National Association of State Chief Information Officers