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OITS member Andrew Levine receives statewide cybersecurity award

BY KATE MOSTACCIO

Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. American Medical Collection Agency, a massive health-care-related debt collector. Asus computers live update tool. All three have something in common — they were hacked in 2019, just the tip of a cybersecurity minefield.

Andrew Levine PEF member Andrew Levine, a Manager of Information Technology Services 1 in the state Office of Information Technology’s (OITS) Chief Operations Office, knows how important it is to keep New York state systems secure.

“I manage the Enterprise Active Directory team,” Levine said. “Active Directory is a service that manages accounts and permissions. It controls and secures access to many systems, including email, Internet, computer network logons, and countless agency-specific applications.”

Levine was one of three individuals recognized at the 22nd Annual New York State Cyber Security Conference in June as a Cyber Security Champion Award recipient.

“It was a tremendous honor,” Levine said. “It was very unexpected, especially since my job isn’t in the Information Security Office. I definitely do not work alone; I have a fantastic team, without whom none of this work would be possible.”

Awards were given to employees for “their significant contributions to support and enhance cybersecurity in New York,” a press release from OITS stated.

“Our New York State Cyber Security Champions work hard each day to strengthen our cyber security protections, and we are grateful for their contributions,” New York state Chief Information Security Officer Deborah Snyder stated in the release.

Levine’s team was most recently involved in a statewide project to improve system access protocols.

“We have been involved in a large effort to make sure that only authorized users have access to data and to administer systems,” he said. “Now that IT services across the state have been consolidated into ITS, opportunities to do this across many state agencies have presented themselves. These include standardizing access controls, automatic cleanup of unused accounts, and linking multiple accounts for the same person.”

While he doesn’t specifically work in cybersecurity, Levine said it should be a top priority for anyone in the IT field.

“Any IT-related job should be keeping it in mind,” he said. “Particularly one that manages access to data and applications. We work hand-in-hand with the Chief Information Security Office, Compliance, and Audit teams to ensure that our service complies with security standards.”

Levine started his State service with the state Department of Health in 2004 as an Information Technology Specialist 2. He has been in his current position since 2016.

His advice for fellow PEF members concerned about cybersecurity?

“One of the easiest ways for New York state data to become compromised is when our accounts and passwords get into the hands of others,” Levine said. “The best advice is simple: Keep your accounts safe. Don’t write passwords down. Don’t share them with anyone.

“And make sure that when you enter your password into any computer systems, especially when clicking links in emails, that you verify it is a legitimate New York state system,” he said.


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