Cyber Talk Radio: City-Wide Cybersecurity with San Antonio's First Chief Security Officer

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Patsy Boozer, San Antonio’s Chief Security Officer - Episode 146 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, July 13, episode 146 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Patsy Boozer, San Antonio’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), to discuss her education and career path in the military that led her to focus on technology and security as well as her new role as the city's first CSO.

I start of the episode by asking Patsy how she got herself to her current role as San Antonio’s first CSO. She began wanting to be in the military and didn’t really care where she was placed, so she went into the Navy doing personnel and records work, and was eventually promoted to an officer. After that, she majored in psychology in college. When she went back to work, she was mistakenly assigned to do cybersecurity work, so she made the most of it and ended up loving it! She enjoyed it so much that she actually went back to school and got her masters in computer science and then served in the Navy for 20 more years. After, Patsy transitioned to working for a large consulting company and did some Department of Defense (DoD) work, working her way up in more vertical industries.We move on to discuss her recently appointed position in a municipality as CSO, and before this, she was Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the city since 2012. How many other CISO/CSOs does she know? Is this a common position in cities? Patsy says that mostly only larger cities/businesses have these positions because their scale is large enough to require a dedicated team. Small businesses and cities who don’t have large enough scale to require full time hires should work with consultants to help them stay up to standard. How did Patsy find her way to San Antonio? She worked with a commercial team that contracted work with the DoD. What are the risks Patsy looks for and how does she reduce them? How does she prioritize those? She came in and looked at the ‘NIST standards’ (from the National Institute of Standards and Technology) for all industries and controls and tried to address the vulnerabilities she saw. How are the wants and needs of a city and its people balanced out with the solutions and tools? It’s important to make sure they have the talent and processes that will be usable for the future implementation of solutions. Also make sure municipal partnerships have access to documents and processes and have checks in place to share information securely.

After the break, we discuss more relatable city security practices. On a previous episode, I talked with Cityflag, the creators of the 311SA app, which is a way san Anontio is integrating technology to help connect the city and its residents to make it a safer place to live. Patsy is responsible for security, and discusses the balance of usability and convenience when it comes to using technology for security. I bring up a new piece of Texas legislation for cybersecurity, which adds required annual security awareness training for city employees, encourages individuals to think securely on their own, and challenges their old habits. Patsy emphasizes that rushing in the workplace usually makes employees skip steps, which decreases security. Make sure to take your time and double check instead of skipping security steps. Patsy talks about what it’s like to have interns — high school interns during the summer and college interns during the fall and spring semesters. They also participate in the city’s summer Ambassador program for college students. What kind of projects do these interns work on? They are very helpful in developing new processes and testing because they serve as a fresh set of eyes because of their lack of institutional knowledge. They also sit with security analysts and learn technologies in order to give feedback on their internal documentation. They can also observe troubleshooting and do research — many take their academics and find a practical calling for them while working on their communication and presentation skills. Patsy is hiring! Look here for job openings in the city. What are they looking for? Outside of educational requirements, they want people who are willing to learn and add to their knowledge of a certain topic.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about Patsy’s background and current role to protect San Antonio.

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