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Top 100 Interview: Lester Godsey

CISO, Maricopa County

Lester Godsey is an IT and cybersecurity expert with more than 24 years of experience. Before becoming the CISO for Maricopa County, Arizona in November 2019 he served as CISO for the City of Mesa, Arizona for four years after being promoted from IT Manager in July 2016. He has a background in academia and has taught IT and project management for the University of Phoenix and Albright College.

How will you drive your organization's cybersecurity strategy forward in 2021?

One of my big objectives is to ensure that we have formal information security governance in place. The logic behind that is I want the departments to continue to maintain their level of autonomy as necessary given their business needs and what their goals and objectives are.

Hackers are looking for any way in, so they are looking for the weakest link in the fence. My goal behind information security governance is to ensure that we have a consistent link fence. No one department or one point of ingress should be weaker than any other one.

How has the pandemic affected the cybersecurity posture in Maricopa County?

I would say our biggest accomplishment from the perspective of the pandemic has been our ability to be flexible. One of our biggest successes in Maricopa County was recognizing what the organizational needs were, especially in these unique times, and being flexible while at the same time not being so flexible that we just opened up the gates and let anybody in.

There’s a fine balance between ensuring that your organization is secure and at the same time being so restrictive that you can’t address what the needs are from an organizational perspective. The good thing for us was that we were ready with a strategic plan, and a mechanism to be able to shift gears quickly.

This is an excerpt from the Top 100 Global Leaders in Information Security Report. Click here to read the full list.