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Fact check: Did Illinois win national cybersecurity awards?

Rauner claims state IT department is among best in nation

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Given the state's troubled history of hacks, computer glitches and a myriad of headlines detailing cybersecurity headaches in recent months, Governor Bruce Rauner's claim that his administration's technology team was "one of the best in the United States" caught some by surprise.

"Our Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) is outstanding," the governor said during a Tuesday news conference where he took questions about the 2016 hack at the State Board of Elections. "We've actually received national awards for their work and the upgrades of our IT systems in the state."

During his administration, state agencies like the Department of Human Services, the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs have been hit with a wide range of significant malware attacks, breaches or computer glitches that created significant delays in enrollment or benefit processes. 

"I wish I could say we're perfect. We're not," Rauner said. "I don't know anybody who is. Cybersecurity is an ongoing challenge for us and for everyone around the world."

Sure enough, some of the people working at DoIT won national recognition for outstanding work in the field of cybersecurity. A group called StateScoop highlights the best and brightest tech minds working in state governments across the country. This year, Illinois tied for sixth nationwide in the number of most cybersecurity awards. Colorado led the way with five total awards. 

Chief Information Security Officer Chris Hill won the 2018 State Cybersecurity Leadership Award for his response to the CyberVet hack at the Department of Veterans' Affairs. DoIT's Chief of Staff Tyler Clark won the 2018 State Leadership Award for using technology to improve communication within the agency.

Kirk Lonbom, the former Chief Information Security Officer, also won recognition from the National Association of State CIO's (NASCIO), earning the Thomas Jarrett Cybersecurity Award in 2017.

In 2016, Illinois was one of five states to participate in the National Governors Association's cybersecurity policy acadamy. 

After the 2016 hack at the State Board of Elections, Governor Rauner says the state is in a better, more secure position after the improvements recommended by DoIT.

"I've been getting reports on their progress," he said Tuesday. "I believe we've made major strides to really tighten the security and safety and integrity of our election systems in Illinois. I want to make sure that we have the best of any state in America to keep our voting process safe and secure."


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