Chapman CIO Helen Norris Testifies Before Senate Committee

Chapman University’s chief information officer urged a U.S. Senate committee to encourage universities and federal agencies to work together to fight threats to cybersecurity.

Helen Norris testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions May 18 in Washington. She served as an expert witness in a hearing about cybersecurity in education and health care.

“The complexity of this work is enormous. New threats emerge with alarming speed and we must pivot to address them as they arise,” she said.

Ransomware, hacking, phishing and social engineering – manipulating people into divulging confidential or personal information – were threats she listed.

“We know that bad actors are always looking to turn our difficulties into their opportunities,” said Norris, a nationally-recognized expert in higher education information technology.

She said fighting cybersecurity threats is expensive, complex and highly regulated. On the other side of the coin, higher education institutions are sophisticated in response to cyber threats, and have dedicated more resources to it.

“Many security incidents occur when an individual falls into a trap set by a hacker, so a large part of our work is educational, ensuring that our students and others have the tools to protect themselves,” she said.

Universities and colleges work together to combat cyber threats, and work closely with federal and state agencies, she said.

“We believe that engagement and partnership with colleges and universities will help ensure effective approaches to bolstering cybersecurity,” she told the committee. “With that in mind, I encourage you to reach out to colleges and universities in your states so you can hear from them directly about their experiences and what would most help them to succeed in this critical area.”

Also providing expert testimony were Denise Anderson, president and CEO of Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center; Joshua Corman, founder of I Am The Cavalry; and Amy McLaughlin, cybersecurity program director for the Consortium of School Networking.

As Chapman’s CIO, Norris is responsible for all technology at the institution, including Chapman’s cybersecurity practice. She has worked in higher education for almost 20 years and has held leadership positions on multiple boards. Norris currently serves as the chair of EDUCAUSE, the nation’s largest community of campus leaders advancing higher education through the use of information technology.

She also serves on the board of advisors for Southern California Society for Information Management, EmpowHER and is a supporter of Women in Technology International and Advancing Women in Technology.

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