New information security officer aims to improve data protection

Will Laney
Will Laney

As the UO’s first-ever chief information security officer, Will Laney has taken up a post the UO has long been looking to fill.

Laney, who started work in November, is responsible for coordinating and implementing programs that ensure the security of the university’s various types of digital information as well as communicating security-related practices to students, faculty and staff. He reports to Melissa Woo, vice provost for information services and chief information officer.

One of Laney’s first projects at the UO is to set up an information security program, which will set a precedent on how to handle important information and data on campus.

“(The program) starts with policy,” Laney said. It is an embodiment of his general duties to oversee incident response, assess the safety of information and manage potential risk. The program will ensure that the campus community understands what it takes to keep information safe and what to do in the event of a breach.

While Laney’s job requires him to keep information across campus secure, he will not just go into each department and change the way they handle their data.

“Most public higher education institutions are decentralized, so while I have the responsibility to secure information across the board, I don’t necessarily want to go into the Department of Mathematics or the School of Journalism and Communications and force solutions on them,” he said. “What I can do is create policy and create a culture that understands security and make sure the correct tools are in place.”

Through his information security program, as well as faculty and student trainings and education, Laney believes that everyone on campus can become more cognizant of what it takes to preserve and correctly handle secure information.

“Everyone on campus is my client, so if they have any questions at all about policy or security, I want them to reach out,” he said. “Awareness is the most important part.”

— By Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications intern