Plugged-in IT Security team receives major award

May 23, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

As a result of several security controls and initiatives, GCU's IT Security team has been ahead of ransomware attackers to keep GCU's students and staff safe and secure. Those efforts were recently recognized at the national level when the IT Security Team received a prestigious CSO50 Award.


Grand Canyon University’s IT Security team was honored with a CSO50 Award for its thought leadership and driving outstanding business value. From left, Andrew Roberts, former IT Security director; Ed Brown, information security analyst; Daniel Addington, information security analyst; and Mike Manrod, current IT Security director.

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s IT Security department recognizes the need for developing and implementing initiatives, beginning with a culture of awareness. 

“The IT security team makes sure that its users know they are on the front lines of identifying and avoiding malware attack,” said Kathy Claypatch, chief technology officer.

For instance, the team periodically drops into New Employee Orientation to implement cybersecurity training, and it distributes its weekly IT Security Presents — an internal communications newsletter containing often humorous stories that address individual security topics. It also carries out an annual GCU Phishing Derby that awards prizes for sniffing out smelly emails.

Most recently, its “A New Take on an Old Problem: GCU’s Cybersecurity Awareness Program” was recognized at the national level with a prestigious CSO50 Award. The initiative rewards employees who forward suspicious emails to the department.

The CSO50 Awards are scored according to a uniform set of criteria by a panel of judges comprised of security leaders, industry experts and academics.

The security team was among 50 organizations (including Aflac, Go Daddy and United Airlines, to name a few) at the CSO50 Conference in Scottsdale recognized for thought leadership and driving outstanding business value.

Warnings of threats by GCU employees and constant vigilance are critical in keeping students and staff safe and secure, Claypatch said.

An example of that is how GCU was able to avoid impact from the recent ransomware attack — known as “WannaCry” — that locked thousands of computers in more than 150 countries and heightened cybersecurity awareness globally. Rapid response and layered security controls helped to protect GCU against this and other similar threats.

“This is a story that demonstrates how feedback to the security team, community and the way we treat each other helps on a global scale,” Claypatch said. “A security team alone within any company can do it on their own anymore — it takes a joint effort.” 

The expertise of the team also helps. For example, Mike Manrod, the new director of security in IT Services, previously served as the Regional Expert for Threat Prevention for the Western United States. 

“This award really is an acknowledgment of the organizational culture at GCU and how much people care,” he said. 

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or

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