Cybersecurity in the Upcoming 2020 Elections

As the 2020 presidential election draws near, state and local government agencies are making preparations to counter present and future cybersecurity dangers that threaten to undermine our nation’s election process.

Last year, state and local governments suffered 162 ransomware incidents, and these attacks show no signs of letting up, even amid the global health crisis. 

To bolster the nation’s overall safety, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has generated and released its plan for protecting not only the infrastructure of this year’s election but also the infrastructure utilized by campaigns and political parties. 

From disinformation campaigns to phishing attacks, CISA aims to identify and mitigate any security issues that might compromise the integrity of this election year. Some notable points from CISA’s plan include: 

  • Creating public awareness campaigns that discuss cybersecurity threats. 
  • Providing local and state cybersecurity officials, as well as private companies that provide voting equipment, with additional information about security threats. 
  • At the local level, helping to develop incident response and crisis communication plans. 
  • Offering services such as physical security assessments, remote penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning, among others. 
  • Conducting voluntary security assessments.
  • Working with private firms and briefing staffers about the best practices to follow regarding campaigns.
  • Providing the public and elected officials with information concerning foreign influence campaigns. 

Although these measures are being taken, CISA Director Christopher Krebs stated that much of the responsibility of securing the voting infrastructure will fall to the state and local government agencies.

Below you’ll find a list of enacted and pending bills relating to cybersecurity that have been made at the state level. 

State-Level Cybersecurity Bills: Enacted

  1. Alabama | AL S 54 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 98: Insurers and other entities licensed by the Department of Insurance must develop, implement, and maintain an information security program. It also provides for reporting to the Commissioner of Insurance, the confidentiality of provided information, and for civil penalties under certain conditions.
  2. California | CA A 74 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 23: Makes appropriations for the support of state government for the fiscal year and provides that activities performed by the office shall be designed to minimize overlap. It also works in coordination with statewide cybersecurity efforts. 
  3. Florida | FL H 5301 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 2019-118: Requires the designation of a state chief information security officer and creates the Florida Cybersecurity Task Force.    
  4. Florida | FL S 2500 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 115: Makes appropriations, including funds to county supervisors of elections for cybersecurity initiatives. 
  5. Georgia | GA H 30 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 3: Appropriates funds to the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to enhance cybersecurity technology for private and public industries through unique education, training, research, and practical applications.
  6. Georgia | GA H 31 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 319: Appropriates funds for cybersecurity training and cybersecurity initiatives in schools.
  7. Iowa | IA H 692 – Status: Enacted: Provides for penalties for using voter registration information, including resale or redistribution of the voter registration list without written permission of the state registrar, for purposes other than those permitted.
  8. Louisiana | LA H 74 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 292: Creates the crime of trespass against state computers, provides for elements of the crime, and also provides for criminal penalties.
  9. Mississippi | MS S 2831 – Status: Enacted: Establishes the Insurance Data Security Law and provides the purpose and intent of the act. It also defines certain terms within the act, requiring insurance licenses in the state to develop, implement, and maintain an information security program. The bill further requires certain notification, investigation, and confidentiality in a cybersecurity event.
  10. Montana | MT H.B. 2 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 483: This bill appropriates money to various state agencies for the upcoming biennium, including funding for many relevant cybersecurity programs and technologies, including next-generation antivirus software, cybersecurity staff, cybersecurity student programs, and many more. The State Information Technology Services Division will report to the legislative finance committee quarterly on the Montana Cybersecurity Enhancement Project.
  11. North Dakota | ND S 2110 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 468: Expands the powers and duties of the Information Technology Department to oversee cybersecurity strategy for all executive branch state agencies. This includes institutions under the control of the State Board of Higher Education, counties, cities, school districts, or other political subdivisions.
  12. Nebraska | S.B. 123 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 546: This bill enacts provisions governing the security and integrity of elections, requiring an annual training class on cybersecurity for those who administer elections. Any records of the Secretary of State or county or city clerk related to election information are confidential and not public records. They may be disclosed only under limited circumstances. 
  13. New Jersey | NJ S 2297 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 213: Revises provisions relating to the State Blockchain Initiative Task Force. 
  14. Nevada | NV S 69 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 392: Revises provisions relating to emergencies and cybersecurity.
  15. Nevada | NV S 123 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 546: Revises provisions relating to elections.
  16. Ohio | OH H 166 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 10: This bill provides funding for cybersecurity initiatives, including the establishment of a cyber range. The cyber range will: (1) provide cyber training and education to K-12 students, higher education students, Ohio National Guardsmen, federal employees, and state and local government employees, and (2) provide for emergency preparedness exercises and training for cybersecurity.
  17. Oklahoma | OK S 261 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 163: Relates to the security of election materials, coercion, and election emergencies. The bill also authorizes post-election audits for certain purposes, provides procedures, and specifies the duties of the Secretary of State Election Board and the Secretary of County Election Board. It also specifies requirements relating to office space and arrangements for county election boards while prohibiting the providing of false or misleading information to prevent registration or voting.
  18. Virginia | VA H 5001a – Status: Enacted, Chap. 1: Revises the budget bill; makes appropriations to various state agencies and programs, including cybersecurity programs.
  19. West Virginia | WV H 2452 – Status: Enacted, Act 123: Creates the West Virginia cybersecurity office and removes the requirements of the Chief Technology Officer to oversee the security of government information. Also created the Cybersecurity office  and provides that the Chief Information Security Officer oversees said office and is authorized to create a cybersecurity framework to assist and provide guidance to agencies in cyber risk strategy.

State Level Cybersecurity Bills: Pending

  1. Georgia | GA S 21 – Status: Pending – Carryover: Will require each local board of education to prescribe mandatory instruction concerning cybersecurity every year in every grade, from kindergarten through grade 12. It will also require the State Board of Education to prescribe a minimum course of study in cybersecurity, providing for duties of the State School Superintendent. 
  2. Illinois | IL H 2829 – Status: Pending: Will create the Financial Institution Cybersecurity Act. The bill provides that persons and entities operating under the authority of the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation under the Banking Act, the Insurance Code, the Savings Bank Act, the Credit Union Act, the Corporate Fiduciary Act, and the Residential Mortgage License Act must maintain a cybersecurity program to protect the confidentiality of their information system.
  3. Illinois | IL H 3017 – Status: Pending: Will create the Veterans Cyber Academy Pilot Program Act and provides that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs shall establish and implement a pilot program to provide veterans residing in the state with access to cyber security training, certification, apprenticeships, and additional resources to enter the cyber security field of work. The pilot program shall run from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023. The bill also provides specific requirements to the department in implementing the pilot program.
  4. Michigan | MI H 4348 – Status: Pending: This bill provides executive recommendations for an omnibus bill, including funding for improvement of the state’s cybersecurity framework.
  5. Minnesota | MN H 17 – Status: Pending – Carryover: Appropriates money from the Help America Vote Act account for certain authorized purposes and provides for the purposes of modernizing, securing, and updating the statewide voter registration system and for cybersecurity upgrades as authorized by federal law.

Needless to say, states and their local government agencies are going to be making a considerable effort to keep this election year secure and free of external interference. 

The federal government has made notable progress towards improved cybersecurity with the founding of CISA and other agencies, but much of our digital safety is still in the hands of local government organizations like yours. 

Staying Ahead of the Curve with Cybersecurity

With these new laws turning cybersecurity training into a requirement, it’s important that your organization be outfitted with courses that don’t just meet the educational standards but are also convenient and easily accessible to your employees. 

Since everyone is still working from home, getting your people into the office for training isn’t an option for most employers, which is one of the reasons that our online training solutions are ideal.

We offer current and on-demand courses dedicated to Cyber Security, which you can consume on your schedule.

As an ETS Learner, you also receive access to over 60 state and national affiliations and accreditations courses, the completion certificates, and the option to print course materials when needed.

Let’s all do our part in keeping our organizations, our people, and our elections safe from cyberthreats. 

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

Maximize the Effectiveness of ELearning with These 5 Strategies

You can improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency by applying the right strategies.
You can improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency by applying the right strategies.

Have you implemented an eLearning program in your agency but aren’t seeing the results you expected?

We understand how frustrating that can be.

You probably see all the obvious advantages eLearning offers your agency – low cost, easy to use, available on-demand, etc. – yet you still struggle with optimizing the program’s usage and adoption.

Why?

Because implementing a program alone isn’t enough.

You have to work with your employees and managers to set forth the right plans, policies, and procedures to improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency.

In today’s post, we’ll help you do just that.

We’ll give you 5 tips for making your eLearning program effective both for learning and productivity.

By the end, you’ll be armed with proven strategies for building a long-lasting eLearning program that delivers the results you’re looking for.

5 Tips to Improve the Effectiveness of ELearning

Create Individual Development Plan Goals

Individual development plan goals are part of a formal agreement between the employer and the employee regarding how the employee will grow within your organization.

These goals establish the expected results that your employees will accomplish over a set period of time.

One of your employees’ major goals should be the development of their skills and knowledge.

Once identified, you can help your employees put together a concrete learning plan that will teach them the information and abilities they require to reach their goals.

WIthout clear learning goals, your employees may jump from one resource to the next, educating themselves haphazardly, and never making any real progress.

That’s where managers come in to help employees align their skill gaps with the necessary courses and resources for achieving their objectives.

Use Microlearning

While long-form learning is critical for educating your employees about big and important subjects, microlearning is useful for most other subjects – and makes learning more productive.

According to Bersin by Deloitte’s infographic Meet the Modern Learner, The average employee only has time to devote 1% of their work week to professional development. That means only 24 minutes a week or 4.8 minutes a day can be allotted for training in a normal 40-hour work week.

Microlearning maximizes your employees’ retention by delivering bite-sized concepts in an easy-to-consume format – enhancing the effectiveness of eLearning.

Also, microlearning makes it easy for you to organize training within the context of the work your employees actually do.

For example, if one of your employees needs to brush up on microsoft network security, they can watch a short video and get back to work in a few minutes. The same is true if they need to read a short white paper or flip to a certain chapter in a book.

Giving your employees microlearning resources they can access and consume quickly will make your eLearning program more effective and engaging.

Increase Employee Engagement

According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is a person who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and who takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

Engaged employees work harder without being asked. They stay late because they genuinely want to perform well for their department and agency. They don’t complain about playing catch-up on work because their coworker was out sick – they gladly shoulder the load.

The engaged employee is the person who lives and breathes your agency’s mission because they’ve made it their own.

By increasing employee engagement in your agency, you’ll make it more likely that your employees will take your eLearning initiative seriously, contribute to enhancing the program, and work hard to achieve their goals.

Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Learning

A culture of continuous learning means that all of your employees are teaching themselves and helping each other be better, achieve more, and advance their careers.

This type of culture will encourage your employees to optimize the effectiveness of your eLearning program and maximize their results.

Also, continuous learning is key for well-executed Government succession planning by making it easier for leadership and institutional knowledge to be passed on and absorbed by the employees filling the vacant positions within your agency.

Here are a few ways to create a culture of continuous learning:

  1. Establish policies for ongoing training, supportive management, specific office hours dedicated to learning, etc.
  2. Tell your employees about your goals to create a continuous learning culture and encourage them to adopt the values and principles of ongoing education.
  3. Turn your managers into coaches and teach them how to help your employees solve problems, motivate themselves, and stay focused.
  4. Align each employee’s goals with the goals of your organization to stay on track and work together for a common purpose.

Find a Platform that Delivers Everything Your Employees Need

If you don’t want to commit to the hassle of designing your own courses, the best thing you can do is find an eLearning platform that delivers the information you need.

There are plenty of eLearning platforms available, but very few that cater specifically to Government agencies.

Even fewer that provide a wide enough breadth of courses for every one of your employees to choose from.

If you want a platform that puts their Government customers first and will tailor an eLearning program to your organizational requirements…

We can help.

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your ELearning Program

With courses for every level of employee, from leadership training to technical IT exam preparation, Our eLearning platform will allow each of your employees to advance their skills and upgrade their knowledge at their own pace and in their own time.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

 

How to Create a Culture of Continuous Learning in Your Agency

A culture of continuous learning will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agency
A culture of continuous learning will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agency

How do you get the best out of your employees?

By creating a culture of continuous learning.

Your employees are the most valuable asset in your organization, and by giving them the tools and opportunity to sharpen their skills and knowledge, you’ll help your agency perform at its peak potential.

The private sector is already using this strategy to empower their companies.

Corporate spending on learning rose to 10% in 2015 according to Global Human Capital Trends 2016. These companies realized that they could maximize the efficiency of their businesses by giving their employees the ability to learn what they needed when they needed.

The same can happen in your agency.

We’ll show you what a culture of continuous learning is and how to cultivate one in your organization for smarter, better, and more dedicated employees.

What is a Continuous Learning Culture?

For individuals, continuous learning is the process of keeping up with ever-changing trends, insights, and tools for better performance and higher achievements in your job.

For organizations or agencies, continuous learning is the process of empowering and encouraging your employees to upgrade their skills and knowledge at their own pace while helping their fellow employees do the same.

A culture of continuous learning means that all of your team members are teaching themselves and helping each other be better, achieve more, and advance their careers.

The benefits of a continuous learning culture are that your employees may offer ideas that you never considered before, or implement strategies and tactics that you didn’t know existed.

Your agency will gain a considerable advantage over other departments because your employees will become more mature, confident, and intelligent as a result of continuous learning.

Also, continuous learning is key for well-executed Government succession planning by making it easier for leadership and institutional knowledge to be passed on and absorbed by the employees filling the vacant positions within your agency.

So, how do you create a continuous learning culture?

5 Ways to Create a Culture of Continuous Learning

There are plenty of things you can do to make learning a large part of your agency. We’ll give you 5 ways to create a continuous learning environment in your organization today.

Define Your Goals

Before you implement a training program for your employees, you need to know why you’re implementing a program in the first place.

  • What’s your goal for your agency?
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • How do you hope to improve?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?

Create a broad vision for your organization that keeps you and your employees on track, while at the same time allowing your employees to follow their own path to personal and professional development.

Provide training for new tools, software, and work methods, along with training that matches your employees’ individual goals.

Which brings us to the next tip for creating a culture of continuous learning…

Define Your Employees’ Individual Goals

Individual development plan goals are especially important for continuous learning.

Without them, it’s difficult for individuals to stay on track, and it’s hard for you to hold your employees accountable.

When your employees know what they’re learning and why they’re learning it, they’re more likely to finish their education and apply what they’ve learned.

But beyond the “why” of their learning plan, you should help them create an action list so that they implement the things they’re learning effectively.

Get Your Employees Onboard

A shift in your agency culture is only possible if everyone is onboard. The first thing you have to do to implement a culture of continuous learning is to tell your employees what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

You need to get all your employees to adopt similar values and principles, the same as you would when trying to increase employee engagement, for example.

Make learning a top priority, and consider revising your mission statement or internal agency slogan or “Values” to include continuous learning as a core tenet of how you run your organization.

You and the rest of your managers should lead by example and demonstrate your own commitment to continuous learning while helping your employees improve their continuous learning plans.

But you should be much more than just a manager…

Turn Your Managers into Coaches

A culture of continuous learning is dependent on managers and employees being open and honest with one another about learning goals, challenges, and achievements.

You should discuss those 3 things with your employees on a regular basis.

Like a coach, you need to be in their corner, ready and willing to help them solve problems and overcome obstacles when necessary.

Regular check-ins can provide the “push” that employees need to succeed. It also lets them know that you genuinely care about them and what they’re doing to better themselves.

Plus, by regularly checking in, you can course correct employees who may be studying or focusing on the wrong things, or help employees shift their priorities to be more productive.

The most important thing you can do as a manager/coach is to give them ample resources for continuous learning.

Give Your Employees Learning Resources

A continuous learning culture relies on constant access to learning resources.

Some of your employees will prefer long-form, formal training, while others will prefer microlearning that’s self-directed.

Sometimes, instructor-led training (ILT) is unavoidable and necessary.

But most of the time, all your employees need is access to relevant information for their specific job roles and goals.

The ease of access and cost of ELearning makes online education the most budget-friendly and employee-friendly option for all types of learners.

With the right ELearning platform, you employees can watch videos, read books, and listen to audio recordings on-demand.

It allows them to learn at their own pace, on their own time, when they’re ready to learn – as opposed to being forced to learn alongside everyone else in a group training session.

But where will you find a central database of resources that cover everything from IT exam preparation to project management and conflict resolution?

Right here at Enterprise Training Solutions.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

5 Individual Development Plan Goals for Improved Employee Success

Individual development plan goals will improve your employee's productivity and strengthen your organization
Individual development plan goals will improve your employee’s productivity and strengthen your organization

Many Government agencies don’t have individual development plan goals for each of their employees, which is a shame because an IDP is one of the most effective ways to retain employees and motivate them to give their best efforts.

In fact, according to research firm Edenred, 68% of workers say training and development are the most important workplace policy.

This means that the majority of employees are craving dedicated, meaningful, and effective individual development in order to succeed within your organization.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to hire the right people to fill vacant positions, which should make you put employee retention and development at the top of your priority list.

RandstadUSA conducted a study on workplace trends and found that 75% of companies agree it takes more time this year than last year to find the right talent to fill positions. Today, the average time to hire a non-executive candidate is more than two months.

If you already have the right people in your organization, your job now is to give them the tools they need to consistently improve their skills and grow their knowledge.

This is where an IDP comes into play.

To help you give your employees everything they need to succeed, we’re going to define an IDP and then layout the 5 most important individual development plan goals your employees should be focused on.

What Is an Individual Development Plan?

Simply put, an individual development plan is a formal agreement between the employer and the employee regarding how the employee will grow within your organization, and what goals they will accomplish over a set period of time.

Once set, individual development plan goals can be used by managers to measure the performance of every employee. Since all employees come with different skills and knowledge, it’s important to analyze their productive output on an individual basis.

Clear, tangible goals allow you to assess where your employees are in their current abilities and then use this assessment to keep them accountable for their professional development.

Ultimately, an individual development plan is used to draw out leadership capabilities from within all of your employees—creating a strong, competent, and highly motivated workforce.

What Are the 5 Most Important Individual Development Plan Goals?

Create an Individual Development Plan for Yourself and Your Organization’s Objectives

You should begin your individual development plan by identifying the objectives of your organization, and the skill sets you require in your employees to accomplish those objectives.

This provides a clear picture of the needs of your organization, which will make it easier to identify the employees who are ready and willing to meet those needs.

Also, if you’re going to help your employees write an IDP, you should first write one for yourself.

And, make sure you actually sit down with each of your employees to help them develop their IDP—don’t just give them a sheet to fill out on their own.

Write down a Big Reason Why an IDP Is Being Created

An IDP is useless without a compelling reason for creating it.

Each of your employees should know exactly why you’re creating an IDP together, and what they think it will help them achieve.

Common reasons would be:

  • They’re currently struggling and want to improve in their job
  • They want to move up in your organization and prepare themselves for the new role
  • They’re comfortable in their position but feel like they could be doing even better

Nailing down a reason for the IDP will help you and your employees stay focused on the core objective as you work through the rest of these steps.

Make a List of Core Strengths and Weaknesses

This exercise is what helps you and your employees evaluate where they’re at currently in their development, what roles and responsibilities they are best suited to pursue within your organization, and what requires the most attention right away.

They should work to master their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses.

Identify What Needs to Be Learned and What Skills Need to Be Developed

There are 3 main categories you should focus on:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Attributes

If they’re moving to a new position, what skills do they need to learn? What knowledge do they need to possess?

If they’re trying to improve in their current role, what skills are lacking? What are their knowledge gaps?

In regards to their attributes, what personality traits should be developed? What type of leadership characteristics should they embody?

Overall, identify specifically what is required to learn, know, and possess to reach their individual development plan goals.

Identify the Actions Required to Achieve the Learning Objectives

This is where the rubber meets the road with IDP’s. Here’s a list of what you need to do to make their IDP actionable:

  • Identify the 1, 2, and 3-year goals of your employees
  • Create milestones for them to hit in their developmental journey
  • Create specific dates for every milestone and goal so you both know when they’re supposed to achieve their objectives
  • And finally, identify how they’re going to actually develop their abilities:
  • Take on a challenging new assignment
  • Receive coaching or mentoring
  • Take an online course

How Do You Implement Individual Development Plan Goals?

Sign the IDP with your employee to make it a formal contract binding both of you to the goals set forth. Allow your employees to take on new challenges like you identified. Plan to meet with them regularly to discuss their progress. And make sure they’re checking off the items on their list as they go.

After a period of time implementing the plan, have a meeting with each of your employees to discuss their successes and failures, and ways to adjust their plan for accelerated performance. Be an open confidant for their continued success.

Also, make sure that you, too, are always developing and improving upon your processes, and learning how to facilitate a better IDP.

Ready to Take Your Individual Development Plan Goals to the Next Level?

Our online courses can give your employees the technical, job oriented skills they desire, along with the interpersonal, leadership skills they require to reach their goals and serve your organization. Plus, we have multiple resources to help you create the best IDP possible for the best results.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation