From the CIO

VCU Technology Services

I hope everyone had a peaceful Thanksgiving holiday filled with friends and family.  In this month’s entry, I thought I would highlight two important initiatives that benefit the VCU community.

Information Security Heroes

In the world of cybersecurity, many cybercriminals gain their foothold in an organization through the exploitation of vulnerable websites/web applications or the duping of people in an organization. These techniques often yield great rewards for cybercriminals, as they can use the initial foothold to steal computational resources to mine digital currency, further penetrate into an organization and steal sensitive information, and/or compromise additional systems through their initial foothold and launch extortion campaigns. Because individuals in an organization are often targeted by cybercriminals, VCU Technology Services recognizes that individual employees, students, guests, and affiliates are often the greatest assets in defending our institution against cyberattacks. The individuals are the eyes and ears of the Information Security Office and often report potential cyberattacks and scams to the Information Security Office.

CISO Dan Han and AVP for Public Safety John Venuti show off their Security Heroes shirts

Over the past year, the VCU Information Security Office launched the VCU Security Heroes program to recognize and reward individuals who report suspicious activities and scams to the VCU Information Security Office. The idea is that rather than targeting individuals, cybercriminals will often target groups of individuals to maximize their chances of gaining a foothold in the organization. Conversely, if we can effectively incentivize reporting and increase the percentage of individuals who report scams to the VCU Information Security Office in a timely fashion, then VCU can respond to threats quickly thus reducing the amount of time a cybercriminal can roam freely within our environment.

The Security Heroes program was launched in November 2018. Aside from thanking each individual for reporting of potential cyber threats and scams, all individuals who report potential cyber threats and scams are given the opportunity to be entered into a raffle for exclusive monthly rewards in the form of “Security Heroes” shirts and the “Security Hero of the Month” designation. At the time of this writing, there are twelve Security Heroes recognized and the VCU Information Security Office has seen improved consistency in time to report potential cyber threats and scams in the university; thus allowing security incident responders to quickly and consistently respond to potential threats targeting the university.

To learn more about the VCU Security Heroes program or see our past Security Heroes, please visit the program website at

Information Technology Career Community

In conjunction with the HR Great Place university-wide career development initiative, the Information Technology Career Community (ITCC) was developed, a leadership team from IT elected and work began in 2019. Career communities enhance the career development of employees who are doing similar work or who have similar career interests across the University by providing regular networking and learning opportunities.  The ITCC serves to enhance technical knowledge and promote career development by facilitating networking, mentoring, and learning activities within the University.  

The ITCC held a kick-off meet-and-greet on November 18, attended by over 40 employees during which further event, learning, and professional development ideas were gathered.  The ITCC Leadership team is working on a comprehensive multi-year professional development curriculum that will span both campuses and will include lunch-and-learns, speaker series, panel discussions, training, mentoring, and shadowing.   


ITCC Lunch and Learn: The Ins-and-Outs of the VCU Network

  • Kush Patel – TS Network Services
  • Thursday, December 5 from Noon – 1 pm
  • MMEC (Medical Campus)
  • 1201 East Marshall Street, Room 3-101

ITCC Lunch and Learn: The Future of Security at VCU

 For further information, you can contact the ITCC at

All persons in an IT Job Family Position are considered part of the ITCC and are automatically included in a listserv used for ITCC announcements.  Persons not in an IT Job Family can join the ITCC and its listserv by subscribing to the IT career community listserv to receive emails about upcoming events and more.  

I encourage your active participation and feedback to the ITCC.

Wishing you all the best for the holiday season,


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