Linda Peterson: Serving the State for Over 33 Years!

On Friday, April 22nd, 2016 Linda Peterson will be retiring from the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications.

Linda began working for the State of South Dakota 33 years and 7 months ago initially as a Programmer Trainee for Department of Transportation before BIT was consolidated.  Initially, Development was comprised of two main groups: Business Requirements and Application Development and was eventually combined into the Development Division. Denise Luckhurst, the Director of Development at the time decided that she wanted Development to be even further broken down into 6 teams. 
Linda applied to be the team manager for DOT. She explained that Denise wanted to identify the teams by letters: A, B, C, D, E, and F. DOT was the 6th team and would therefore be the “F” team. Linda explained, “I said I much preferred to be the A team and not the F team, so it was then decided to just number the teams 1 through 6.  When Denise retired in… I think 2012 – I moved up to Director.”
When Linda first began her journey with the State, mainframe is what was used and COBOL or Natural were the main languages. Linda elaborated:
“We wrote our code out on paper, gave the hand written sheets to Data Entry staff, then edited the code using the latest and greatest online editor called Panvelet (pan-vă-lāy’).  When pc’s arrived, we had a bank of those that we shared.  Eventually we each had our very own pc at our desk which was totally awesome and could type in our code ourselves!”
Another thing that has changed drastically over the years? Her scenery. She illustrated:
“At the DOT building there were about 10 of us and we shared 4 mainframe terminals.  My desk was in a room that in the past had housed a large plotter.  Apparently the plotter was noisy so the walls of the room were carpeted in a very lovely gold shag carpet to help with the noise. Long after the plotter was removed, the carpet still remained. Three of us shared that room, one was a chain smoker (smoking in state buildings was still allowed then).  There was one mainframe terminal in this room as well and was the one used by all of the smokers.  I inhaled a lot of second hand smoke that first year. “
 When asked about memorable moments throughout the years, Linda shared this story:
“I had only been in my position for about a year when my first boss, Al Yocom, decided to experiment with these new cards that could be inserted into a PC to make it emulate a mainframe terminal. He asked me to test it out, so I grabbed my screwdriver (one came with every new AT&T PC in those days), opened up the PC, screwed in the card, hooked up the cable, and fired up the PC. And then the mainframe went down. In those days- it wasn’t unusual for the mainframe to go down (sorry Wayne), so I didn’t give it a second thought. When the mainframe came back up, I tried it again. And the mainframe went down, again. I thought it was a bit odd, maybe still a bit of a coincidence, but I felt I needed further proof before I gave up. So, when the mainframe came back up, I tried a third time. To this day, I suspect that I may be the record holder for bringing the mainframe down 3 times 🙂.”
Linda will miss successfully accomplishing complex projects and working with smart people who care about doing their best every day. She believes that working at BIT has made her more confident, going on to say “It may be hard to believe, but I used to be even more quiet and reserved.”
When asked if she thought being a woman leading a team of technologists who support a department dominated by male engineers made a difference, Linda said that because her predecessor was also a female, it didn’t seem all that new. However, working with other leaders from any given agency was a little more challenging. Linda explained, “I’m not an assertive speaker, so my voice tends to get lost in discussions.  I read an interesting article from Discover magazine:
‘..A psychiatrist monitored the brain activity of 12 men as they listened to voice recordings and found that they process male voices differently from those of females.  Women’s voices stimulate an area of the brain used for processing complex sounds, like music.  Male voices activate the ‘mind’s eye,’ a region of the brain used for conjuring imagery…..’
She went on to say, “I believe that for a woman to be really heard, she must speak up and speak confidently … and, as Sheryl Sandberg has written in her book Lean In, ‘Sit at the table and reach for opportunities. Most importantly: Believe in yourself- believe that your achievements are due to your talent- not just luck.’”
After retiring, Linda plans on selling her house and moving to Colorado! She wants to be closer to her sister who lives in Denver, but not actually live in Denver! There’s too many people (especially in comparison to Pierre 🙂). Linda will continue her beloved hobby of reading (she has quite the lengthy list of books she wants to read!) and playing the piano. Linda shared:
“I have two older sisters who started piano lessons when I was about 5.  My mother said I was too young for lessons, but when she found me playing the songs my sisters played, she sent me to the same piano teacher who assigned me the same piano books that my sisters were using.  After about a year,  she assigned a new book to me that I had never seen/heard before.  It was then that she realized I couldn’t read a note and had been just playing by ear.  She was really, really unhappy that we had to go back to square 1.”
Words of wisdom to those she is leaving behind? “Never stop learning.  Never stop being open to new ideas.  Don’t be afraid of failure or of making mistakes because if you’re not making mistakes then you’re not learning anything new.”
Although the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications has been so fortunate to have you these past few years Linda, there are a few other people who are also very proud of you as well…
“Linda has been my coworker, supervisor, and mentor over the last 20 years. During that time she has helped create many of the development standards that are in place today. She was very instrumental in removing DOT’s data silos. Due to her involvement in creating an enterprise wide data model, almost all data is stored once, and only once. Her “data first” mentality has been the inspiration for many critical systems that will be in production several years from now. It’s been a pleasure to work with her and for over the last couple of decades.”
 Lonnie Stoltenburg
“It’s exciting to think of Linda in retirement mode. Travel, wine, admin privileges over her own machine, the freedoms are endless. Yet I can’t help but express sorrow at losing daily interaction with a friend and mentor. The two most important things I’ve learned from Linda in the four years since she hired me are:
1.       If you believe in people, the greatest thing you can do is trust them
2.       We can always be better
Linda has the ability to show people the value of the work they do and how it fits into Development’s larger goals – and that’s something that I will always strive for as a leader. This focus on people plus an unending dedication to improvement allowed her to move up through BIT. She carried this dedication into her role as Director of Development, and it will be carried along after her retirement.  We will all miss Linda for her leadership and service, I will miss her for her guidance and friendship. “
– Adam Emerson
“Linda has been challenged to guide the evolution of Development to a modern, standards based, integrated unit characterized by common ideals and processes, sharing, creativity, and customer service. She has successfully met this challenge, and now challenges us to sustain and advance these improvements. We thank her for her efforts and her accomplishments.”
-David Zolnowsky

Adventures With Wayne Wayt!

Recently, Wayne Wayt went to Washington DC and Mount Vernon, Virginia with his parents, aunt, and sister. While they were there, they visited the memorials of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. In addition they stopped by the Washington Monument, a few Smithsonian museums, a Holocaust museum, and the Arlington National Cemetery.

Wayne explained that his favorite thing to see was probably the Jefferson Memorial, because most of the other exhibits he has seen before. He went on to say that because of the time of the year they were there, they were lucky enough to see the cherry blossom trees blooming, which was a beautiful sight!

When asked if he learned anything interesting on his trip, Wayne elaborated:

“The Holocaust museum, although disheartening, is a good reminder of atrocities that should not have happened and need to be prevented from happening again.  I appreciated the monuments to our founding fathers.  I think I particularly liked the Jefferson Memorial, not only was it my first time visiting it, but the quotes from Jefferson regarding the formation of our nation. One could stand and read his words and could tell that he was talking about something greater than himself and that the faith that our nation would endure.  With all the political rhetoric that is going on with the current presidential campaigns, it was refreshing to be reminded how our nation was founded.”

Employees of the Quarter!

On a quarterly basis, BIT recognizes staff in honor of their outstanding performance and dedication to our agency, state government and the citizens of South Dakota. This time around, we gladly recognize:

Steve Matteo
Steve is a senior technology engineer working as a member of the Systems and Operations Team in the BIT Data Center. Steve was lured away from his previous position as a consultant for TEK Systems and his former home in Atlanta GA approximately four and a half years ago and has been a steady and valued member of our team ever since.

When he joined BIT, Steve already had over thirty years of experience with mainframe systems including the application of operating system upgrades starting with Multiple Virtual Storage (MVS) and progressing through to the current IBM operating system, z/OS. He has a broad knowledge of mainframe systems, mainframe programming languages, and product installation and patching processes. Since joining us, he has had the opportunity to put his skills and knowledge to good use supporting our clients and his team members. He has been our lead technician for the Compuware Product Suite, has played an important role in designing mainframe recovery processes, and after multiple attempts by former employees, he was able to successfully eliminate BIT’s dependence on Panvalet on the mainframe. Steve is also one of only a few remaining BIT employees that can write or modify mainframe assembler code, and is among only a handful that can code in the predominate mainframe scripting language, REXX.

Most recently, Steve played an important part in the project to encrypt all mainframe data at rest, was the lead technician during the installation of a third-party query tool for the mainframe security system, and played a lead role in the mainframe operating system upgrade that was implemented last fall. The project at the top of his list of current assignments involves him putting his knowledge of the Computer Associates product suite to good use by leading an effort to upgrade the mainframe tape management system to the latest supported release while also removing code and references to software packages that we no longer need.

When not on the clock, Steve counts himself among the many firearms enthusiasts in the area, has a passion of working on old cars, and can occasionally be seen being led down the sidewalk by his two miniature Pinschers.

Todd Dravland
Todd started his career with ATG/State Radio in 1989 as a network engineer after graduating from SDSU with a BS in Electrical Engineering. For the past 27 years Todd has managed the operations of the State Radio network with some notable accomplishments over that time:

· Design and installation of a new statewide radio communications system in 2003.

· Upgrade of the tower sites on the system between 2003 and 2014 from 35 to 58.

· Upgrade of the radio network core and site equipment between 2012 and 2014.

· Increase in the number of users on the system from 14,000 state, local, tribal, and federal radios to over 22,000 over the past 13 years.

· Drafted and received FCC approval for the states 700mhz and 800mhz spectrum plans.

Todd leads a staff of nine technicians that maintain the system, is the frequency coordinator for South Dakota, and participates with the interoperability governance within our state and is actively engaged with our border states to improve cross-border communications.

Todd’s family includes his wife Pam, and children Trey and Marlee, both currently in High School at Pierre Riggs. As a family they are actively engaged in the Pierre swim team, with both Trey and Marlee competing regularly.

In his spare time, Todd enjoys his amateur radio (HAM) activities, golfing, and keeping up with his beloved Minnesota Vikings.

Todd has made a lasting impact on public safety communications for our state.

Members of the CC03 DPS Driver License System Team

The CC03 DPS Driver License System was a mainframe system written in house by BIT approximately 30 years ago. BIT partnered with DPS in May of 2013 to completely rewrite the system into a .NET application. The new systems, now known as the PS11 SDDrivers System, was successfully completed and placed in production in January 2016. The 2 ½ year project was completed for $1.5 million, which amounted to 100 hours under the estimated project hours and only $13,000 over estimated project cost (some of which can be attributed to an increase over the BIT Development hourly rate of the 2 ½ year period).

The following BIT employees are being recognized for their superior roles in this project:

Ross Effling
Ross started with the BIT family in August of 2014 as a Software Engineer I and was promoted to a Software Engineer II a year later. Upon joining the team initially, he was immediately appointed the lead web service representative for the team and also joined the DENR FoxPro Conversion project team. Ross served as one of the Lead Developers for the Driver License project. Once the DPS Driver License rewrite project took off, Ross became part of that project team with the intent that he would become the primary support of that system upon completion. The successful rewrite of the system has officially passed the torch from Gary Larson to Ross as he is now Primary Analyst for the PS11 SDDrivers System. In his spare time, Ross enjoys snow skiing, and mountain biking. He also is an avid golfer and officiates high school boys and girls basketball games. Ross is from Clear Lake, SD, and graduated from South Dakota State University.

Paul Bousa
Paul initially joined BIT in September of 2000 as a Programmer/Analyst, and through perseverance and hard work, he now stands as a Software Engineer IV as of 2013. His many years of experience with the State made Paul an excellent candidate to be one of the Lead Technical Architect/Developer for the Driver License project. He has extensive experience working in a Lead Technical Architect role as he has spearheaded some of Development Team 2’s major projects over his tenure. Paul spends a lot of time staying in touch with IT trends and technology. He does enjoy gaming and actively attends gaming conventions when he has time. Paul just recently became a home owner, which also keeps him busy. Paul is originally from Spearfish, SD and graduated from Dakota State University.

Scott Schuricht
Scott came aboard the BIT team in April of 2002 as a Programmer Trainee, and through perseverance and hard work Scott has risen to Software Engineer IV as of May of 2012. Scott acted as one of the Lead Technical Architects/Developers for the Driver License project. Like Paul, Scott has extensive experience working in a Lead Technical Architect role and has also spearheaded some of Development Team 2’s major projects. One of these was the Department of Revenue CEDAR System which is a complex accounting based system. It combined 5 existing tax revenue systems and 1 additional new application into one central tax revenue system, CEDAR, which is responsible for approximately 1.5 billion dollars in payments from tax filers. In his spare time, Scott enjoys fishing and has a green thumb for gardening, growing a variety of hot peppers for his homemade salsa. Scott is from Clark, SD and graduated from Lake Area Technical Institute.

Kari Stulken
Kari began working for BIT in July of 1998 as a Programmer/Analyst, and currently serves as both the head of the BIT Project Management Office and an active project manager. Fittingly, Kari was the Project Manager for the SDDrivers project. She did an awesome job of keeping it organized, on schedule, and on budget. None of these were easy tasks considering the constantly changing dynamic of the project, not to mention the project’s duration. Kari successfully navigated the waters of deciding such matters as how much money to spend in the first year, the use of an agile approach, increasing development rates, and simply coordinating 5 developers and countless users. Kari regularly met with Mark to discuss resources, project status, project budget, and any issues that would arise.

Kari and her husband Troy have two daughters, Megan and Molly. Megan is a freshman at USD and Molly is a junior at T.F. Riggs. In her free time, Kari enjoys spending time at her lake house on Chantier Creek and working on her photography skills with her new camera!

Mark Cichos

Mark joined BIT in January of 1987 as a Program Analyst. Over the years, Mark has climbed through the ranks and currently serves as a Software Engineer Manager II for Development Team 2. Mark was very supportive of the SDDrivers project. During the project, Mark made sure the project had development resources with the correct skillsets. He provided excellent advice to address the issues at hand and became an avid supporter of project management in the process.

Mark and his wife Sue have two sons. Kyle is attending the University of Alabama Medical School and Scott is in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Minnesota. Mark enjoys traveling, especially on the ground, to see his kids. Mark also enjoys following many sports activities, especially the NFL draft, NCAA Men’s Basketball, USD Coyotes, Pierre Governors, Post 8 Baseball and the Strasburg Clippers.

Again, congratulations and thank you all for your efforts and for all the years of dedication of service to the State—BIT looks forward to many more!

Claude Garelik: Serving the State for 21 years!

On April 22, 2016 Claude Garelik will be retiring from the South Dakota Board of Regents after serving the higher education community for 21 years! 

Claude began his journey working in South Dakota in October of 1995 when he joined the University of South Dakota (USD) to become the manager of Networking Services. A native of Newark, New Jersey, he was recruited from the east coast to attend Yankton College. He graduated from Yankton College in 1968 after enduring many 44 hour train rides back ‘n forth to NJ. After working for many different companies he returned to South Dakota for his graduate study and working at USD in 1995. In 2001, he took on a new System-wide role as the Director of I/T Security for the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR). Eventually this position transitioned to the Chief I/T Security and Networking Officer. During his tenure with the SDBOR, Claude has served as a valued partner with BIT on many projects and initiatives.

“Claude’s impact across the networking & security world in South Dakota is legendary,” said BIT’s Chief Security Officer Jim Edman. “His technical skills are top notch but his relationship building has catapulted SD onto the national research scene. As well documented in his achievements – Claude has invested untold hours in working with other national leaders to secure connectivity from South Dakota to the national research scene.”

In his most recent position, Claude was responsible for overseeing network planning, implementation and I/T security for all of the SDBOR public universities. These duties led to Claude working closely with BIT staff for wide-area networking, security, compliance, and advanced technology efforts. Claude was a key member of the task force that led to the construction of South Dakota’s Research, Education and Economic Development network, commonly known as REED. Claude was instrumental in bolstering South Dakota’s position in the Research and Education network communities with his work with Internet2 and the Great Plains Network.

The relationship between BIT and the Board of Regents can be challenging considering varying political, financial and technology considerations. Claude has always been successful to bridge those gaps without losing sight of the end-goal.

Currently, Claude serves as the chair of the Great Plains Network (GPN) Executive Council, specifically holding a place on the Network Program Committee (NPC), which aims to provide networking services to members that wish to participate. He also serves as a committee member for EPSCoR and the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Claude has also served as a former chair for the Quilt, a national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education.

Whether Claude was serving as the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on National Science Foundation research grants, securing our public higher education institutions through rigorous security assessment and compliance checks, or collaborating on the latest telecommunications and network technology project, Claude has always put the students and faculty from South Dakota first and foremost.

His coming days will be filled with travel around the world with his wife by his side.

Best of luck in your travels and best wishes for a healthy retirement, Claude! You have left a legacy of networking and security footprints that will be remembered far into the future.

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Keith Byer: BIT’s Willy Wonka

Okay, so that might be a “BIT” of an exaggeration (pun intended), but in all seriousness Keith is quite the chocolatier!

Recently one of BIT’s very own, Keith Byer, was featured on the front page of the Capital Journal for his homemade confections. Keith explained to the Capital Journal that because he is doing his work on such a small scale, selling small batches would become quite pricey. “On my level, I can’t afford a metric ton of it. I can’t even afford a bag of it. And as soon as I can afford a bag of it, I can cut my prices in half.”

For now, Keith spreads his love by donating his chocolate or bringing it to work for us to try! Last month he participated in a charity fundraiser for Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Center and in the future he will participate in additional fundraisers for the Pierre Fire Department and St. Joseph’s school.

Keith explained while he was at the Missouri Shores event, “I was having fun with that because I was putting it out on boards, and people would take knives and break out a chunk.” Sound familiar BIT family? J

For more information on Keith’s process for making his chocolate, check out our previous blog post:

Brian Oakland: BIT Employee & Radio Announcer

Brian Oakland has worked with BIT for 19 years and currently serves as a Web Server Administrator for the Data center. When he’s not at BIT, Brian does radio announcing for KGFX- where he has announced for almost 22 years!
You may have heard the voice of Brian Oakland on the radio from time to time. It’s possible you’ve even heard him over the lunch hour and then seen him in a meeting 5 minutes later. Although Brian is pretty awesome…. He’s not Superman :).
Brian explained “I usually do weekend on-air shifts, but record them on Friday evenings, or some time over weekends before the shifts are scheduled to begin. If I am asked to fill in for a weekday shift, I will usually record those the night before.” He elaborated, “Recording is still done in the studio. I don’t have any fancy equipment set up in my house or anything.”
He went on to joke, “It’s always funny when someone sees me in public just minutes after hearing me do a radio show on the air. Trying to explain my superhuman ability to literally be in two places at one time (without the help of my twin brother) can be pretty entertaining.”
Brian’s degree in Mass Communications from USD in combination with knowing the station’s general manager for most of his life helped open a door for him to start working at the station part time while in college.
Brian does play-by-play coverage of high school football, basketball, volleyball, and wrestling.  He has also done live on-air broadcasting and even DJ’ed weddings and proms back in the day. The man has done it all! Brian explained:
“It’s the play-by-play announcing that I have the most fun with.  I have a real passion for high school sports, and I have gained a lot of friendships over the years with parents, coaches, school officials, and even student-athletes, who usually have a great appreciation for what we do for them.  Watching the kids grow up before your eyes, from one year to the next, also makes it special.”
When asked if he has any funny stories to share along the way, Brian explained:
“I like to tell the story about how I was a Computer Science major at one time while in college at USD, but I changed my major to Mass Communication.  In an ironic twist of events, my full-time job is now what I turned away from in college, while my part-time job is along the lines of what I earned my degree in.”
Brian’s wife, Jami, works for DCI. The couple has two children: Justin who is a sophomore biology student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and a daughter, Carly, who is a sophomore at T.F. Riggs high school. The family has four dogs and one cat.
In his free time, you can find Brian bowling, playing golf and softball, making casino runs, and taking the scenic route when road-tripping.  His favorite foods include the famous prime rib from the Cattleman’s Club and movie theater popcorn. Brian also coaches youth bowling and softball. In the summertime, you can often find him at the batting cages down at the Oahe Softball Complex, where he serves as a coordinator of volunteer workers.  
If anyone is interested in free hitting for yourself or your kids this summer, feel free to get in touch with him!

Around the World With Kaitlyn Martinez: The Final Edition!

In their last few weeks in Germany, Kaitlyn and Ozzy visited: Bremen, Brocken, Hamburg, and even went over to Prague!

Ozzy and Kaitlyn traveled to Bremen for a school excursion. The couple stopped by the Rath house, which Kaitlyn described as being similar to a city hall. Additionally, the couple scored some free tickets to Brocken, where they were able to go skiing. Kaitlyn explained, “Brocken is the tallest mountain in Northern Germany. It was Ozzy’s first time skiing.” She joked, “Everyone else went snowboarding because it was ‘so much cooler.’”


Kaitlyn noted Prague as being one of her favorite places she has visited since she has been in Europe. She explained that the picture taken of her and Ozzy was in one of the most confusing parks in the world. To get to the top of the trail, there is no distinct path to follow – so the walkers end up doing a lot of zigzagging back and forth. She also went on to note, “The people there were really nice.” 

Next time we chat with Kaitlyn, she will be back in good old South Dakota!

Платья больших размеров

Современные женщины все без исключения хотят прекрасно выглядеть. Причем такое желание возникает у всех представительниц прекрасного пола независимо […]

BIT’s First Annual Soup-Off!

BIT held its first annual Soup-Off on Thursday, February 25th. Many delicious soups, full bellies, and contestants later, two contestants were able to climb their way to the top.

Betty Hanson took 1st place with her bacon cheeseburger soup and Ryan Ogan stole second with his Olive Garden inspired Zuppa! Luckily for us, the two top chefs were gracious enough to share their award winning recipes!!

Betty’s Famous Bacon Cheeseburger Soup:

  • 1.5 lbs. hamburger 
  • 1 package real bacon bits 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried parsley 
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • 5 cups chicken broth 
  • 6 cups cubed potatoes 
  • 1/3 cup flour 
  • 3 cups of cubed sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 2 1/3 cups milk 
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (optional)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook onions and hamburger until hamburger is brown.
2. Stir in basil, parsley, bacon bits, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Melt butter and stir in flour. Combine with milk.
4. Gradually add milk and butter mixture to the soup stirring constantly. Add cheese to soup and continue stirring until cheese is melted.
5. Stir in sour cream and it’s ready to eat!

Ryan’s Famous Zuppa:

  • 1lb Italian sausage 
  • 2 large russet baking potatoes, cubed 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 4 cups kale or 4 cups swiss chard, chopped 
  • 2.5 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth 
  • 1 quart water 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Brown sausage in your soup pot. Add Onions and caramelize.
2. Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
3. Place potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
4. Cook on medium heat until potatoes a
5. Add bacon.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
8. Turn to low heat.
9. Add kale and cream.
10. Heat through and serve.

When asked why they chose to make the soups they did, Betty responded, “I made bacon cheeseburger soup because both my kids loved this soup growing up.” Ryan elaborated, “It’s one of my favorites and isn’t too terribly difficult to make.”

Both Ryan and Betty were shocked to find out that they were the winners of this competition. However, both of them agreed that the camaraderie and taste testing this competition provided was their favorite part!

The morning of the competition Ryan’s son, Alex, asked him if he was going to dress up for his contest. Ryan explained, “We watch some food network shows at home with the boys once in a while and I assume he thought it would be like one of those types of shows. He seemed a little disappointed when I wore regular work clothes to the contest.”

Way to go Betty and Ryan! 

Why Strong, Unique Passwords Matter

Cybersecurity experts make the recommendation for strong, unique passwords for several reasons “ the first being that every day malicious cyber threat actors compromise websites and online accounts, and post lists of usernames, email addresses, and passwords online. This exposes people’s passwords, and worse yet, they are exposed with information that uniquely identifies the user, such as an email address. That means that a malicious actor can look for other accounts associated with that same person, such as work related, personal social media, or banking accounts. When the malicious actor finds those accounts they can try logging in with the exposed password and if the password is reused, they can gain access. This is why unique passwords matter.

Secondly, when malicious cyber threat actors can’t easily find or a guess the password, they can use a technique called brute forcing. This is a technique where they try every possible password until the correct password is identified. Computers can try thousands of passwords per second, but for this technique to be worthwhile, the malicious cyber threat actor needs the password to be easy to identify, which is why a strong password matters. The stronger the password the less likely brute forcing will be successful.

When malicious actors use brute forcing techniques they often try every word in the dictionary because it’s easier to remember words than random letter combinations. This technique is not limited to English-language dictionaries, so switching languages will not help. And since many passwords require a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, the malicious actors rely on human instinct to narrow down the possibilities. For instance, most users when faced with choosing a password that fits these requirements, will pick a word, put the uppercase letter first, and end the password with the number and symbol. Alternatively, many people will replace common letters with a number or symbol that represents that letter. This changes a common password, such as “password,” into the only slightly more complex password of “p@ssw0rd,” which is still an easy to guess pattern.

Consider using a password manager, which is an application that can run on a computer, smartphone, or in the cloud, that securely tracks and stores passwords. Most password managers can also generate strong, random passwords for each account. As long as the password to access the password manager is strong and unique, and two-factor authentication is being utilized, this technique can be affective. However, if the company running the cloud-based password manager is compromised, or a vulnerability in their software is discovered and leveraged by an attacker (which does happen!) it is possible that all of your passwords could be compromised. If you choose a password manager that is local to your computer or smartphone, your passwords may be compromised if malware gets on your computer or you lose your smartphone. When choosing a password manager, ensure it is from a known, trustworthy company with a good reputation.

Another technique to assist in building strong, unique passwords, is to choose a repeatable pattern for your password, such as choosing a sentence that incorporates something unique about the website or account, and then using the first letter of each word as your password. For example the sentence: “This is my January password for the Center for Internet Security website.” would become “TimJp4tCfISw.” This password capitalizes 5 letters within the sentence, swaps the word “for” to the number “4,” and adds the period to include a symbol. The vulnerability in this technique is that if multiple passwords from the same user are exposed it may reveal the pattern. Variations on this technique include using the first letters from a line in a favorite song or a poem.

Scott Leiferman; 25 Years of Service!

Recently, Scott Leiferman celebrated 25 years of service for the State of South Dakota! Scott was originally hired in 1991 by the Department of Social Services Information Technology Development team. A few years later when BIT consolidated, Scott joined Development Team 4.

Currently, Scott serves as an Application Development Manager for team 4. Scott explained, “Development team 4 primarily provides service for the Department of Social Services. I currently manage 20 full time employees and 5 contractors.”

Scott explained that technology has changed since he first started 25 years ago:

“When I first started we used a ‘dumb terminal’ to develop applications. Basically, it is just a monitor with a keyboard that was tied into a mainframe computer. We didn’t use the internet or even PCs. Today, we have applications on our phones that we carry in our pockets.”

When asked his biggest accomplishment to date, Scott cited, “My marriage and children.” (Awwww  🙂 !!)

What’s his advice to the rest of us who have yet to make it to the 25 year mark? “The satisfaction you get is directly related to the effort you give. To keep your job fulfilling for a long period of time you need to be proactive about putting in the effort.”

Scott and his wife Bobbi have a 10 year old girl named Erin and a 9 year old boy name Jacob. They enjoy camping, boating, fishing, and hunting. Additionally, Scott enjoys coaching little league baseball and football. In his spare time you can find him playing catch or an occasional board game or video game with his kids!

Congratulations on your 25 years of service, Scott! Here’s to many more!!

Jim Dean; Recognized As An Employer Who Supports The National Guard And Reserve!

Kala Goetschius, a computer support specialist for BIT, has served as an 88M (also known as a motor transport operator) in the National Guard out of Millbank, South Dakota for almost 11 years.

Recently, Kala nominated her boss, Jim Dean, to be recognized as an employer who supports the National Guard and Reserve. Kala explained, “I have submitted Jim for this because he has stood behind my being in the guard and having to be gone sometimes with little or no notice for drills or other assignments they may throw at me.”

Jim explained:

“Although I personally have not served in the military, I come from a family where my dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran in the U.S. Navy; and my brother-in-law, Fred, served in the U.S. Marine Corps. I understand the importance of supporting our military forces.” He went on to state, “It is my belief as a United States citizen that we owe our military servicemen and woman the highest respect and honor for their service and sacrifice to this great nation. It is my honor as an employer in BIT to support Kala as a National Guard member in any way I can by allowing her the necessary time off to attend drills in Milbank and attend summer training exercises. Thank you Kala for your service!”

Jim also added, “During this time I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge and honor others on my team that have served in the military – Dave Ames (U.S. Navy), John Wulf (U.S. Army), and Tony Tibbs (U.S. Navy). Thank you for your service as well!”

Jim has worked for the state for many years and has been with BIT since its consolidation in 1996. He was born and raised in Pierre and graduated from T.F. Riggs High school. Jim is married to Marliss and they will be celebrating their 35th anniversary in March!

Jim has three children: Jennifer, Amanda, and Chris; and two grandchildren: Jacob and Ashlynn. In his free time, he enjoys doing home improvement projects (which he noted never seem to end!), fishing, target shooting, riding his Harley and cheering for his favorite football teams the Green Bay Packers and the Nebraska Huskers!

Kala first got involved with the National Guard her junior year of high school when a recruiter visited her history class. She explained, “He [the recruiter] had just gotten back from Iraq at the time with what is now my unit. He gave a speech and after that I was signed within the next month. Not really sure what it was but I just decided that I wanted to sign so I did at the age of 17.” Kala’s grandpa served in the army for 3 years and she currently has 3 cousins who are currently serving.

Kala is originally from Milbank, South Dakota and has a 6 month old son named Charlie. She attended Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls where she graduated in 2009. Kala loves to play darts and currently serves as the treasurer for the Pierre Area Dart League (PADL) here in Pierre.

Congratulations on your award, Jim! Thank you for your service, Kala!

Not Utilizing Your Microsoft Outlook Calendar? You should!

How using your calendar helps YOU:

· Mental Preparedness. Simply stated: when you know a task is coming you are more prone to being prepared for the task.
· Focusing on your task. Blocking your calendar for a particular event means that you will be focusing on THAT event (or at least you should be). You have allotted a chunk of time to work on a specific item.
· Improved Productivity. Knowing what you need to do helps you do it! It’s as easy as that. When you have a game plan you are more likely to be productive.
· Less Stress. Thoughtfully and strategically prioritizing your calendar by putting high priority items first and lesser priority items later will lessen your stress levels. This method should help you to better meet deadlines as well!

How blocking your calendar helps others:

Have you ever tried to make an appointment with a group of people, or maybe just one person?

You go to set up a new meeting, add the attendee(s) and enter in the date and time. Microsoft Outlook has a neat little feature that checks all the attendees’ calendars to let you know if that time you selected works for them as well. You look to the side of the meeting invite and see this:

All systems go, right? Not always. Just because someone’s calendar says they are free doesn’t mean they actually are. This is why it is so important to keep your calendar up to date. Personal appointments, work appointments, whatever the occasion you should block time on your calendar so people know when they can get ahold of you.

Remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would want them to do to you! You wouldn’t want someone wasting your time, so do your best not to waste theirs!


FirstNet: Changing Communications Forever

We all remember where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. We watched in awe while police helicopter pilots circled the glowing red towers as they began to collapse in front of us.

From the helicopters, police were able to warn those in the North Tower that the tower would not be able to last much longer. Consequently, most of the police officers were able to heed these warnings, allowing them to evacuate the building safely.

The firefighters in the same building, however, never received this information for one simple reason: Radio systems for the Fire Department, the Police Department, and the Port Authority Police were all incompatible with each other.

Not only were firefighters and police officers unable to communicate, but due to technical issues that day, Fire Department radios, in particular, had very limited range. Chuck Dowd, the head of New York’s 911 call center at the time recalls, “As soon as they went five or ten floors up in the buildings, they couldn’t talk to each other.”

When the 9/11 Commission released its report in 2004, it identified communications failures as a “critical element” that undermined the response to the attacks. Sadly, this is not the first time the US has been confronted with this issue.

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement noted that, “In emergency situations that require mutual support, neighboring police departments cannot communicate because their radios operate on different frequencies.”

Again when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the storm and flooding had completely wiped out communication networks- requiring first responders to improvise low tech-solutions. “It got to the point that people were literally writing messages on paper, putting them in bottles and dropping them from helicopters to other people on the ground,” Louisiana State Senator Robert Barham told The Washington Post in 2005.

After much lobbying, on February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act was signed into law. This legislation established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and charged it with creating a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Thus one of the largest government technology projects begun: creation of a single nationwide network for public-safety officials known as FirstNet.

The term “FirstNet” is also used to describe the broadband network itself, which will be a single, nation-wide network. This network will allow our first responders from a variety of jurisdictions to stay safe and to do their jobs, while enabling them to communicate at the same time. To meet the needs of federal, state, local and tribal public safety agencies, it will require one of the largest and most complex I/T projects in the nation’s history. Ultimately this would address the problem of inadequate, fragmented communications that have plagued police, fire departments and other emergency agencies for years.

The premise behind the NPSBN is having available mobile data bandwidth for our nation’s first responders no matter what the situation. Currently, in emergencies the commercial wireless carriers can be overwhelmed and access to cellular voice or data services may become unreliable, if available at all. This “FirstNet project” creates a separate (from the public) wireless network specifically for the public safety industry, thus ensuring access in the worst of times.

State officials with the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications have been working with FirstNet to ensure we design a network that will work not only for our state, but on a national level as well. The South Dakota Public Safety Communication Council ( governs these activities. This council is well represented with the many public safety entities in our state. We need to ensure South Dakota is not overlooked by making FirstNet aware of our concerns, and unique aspects of our state’s public safety needs. We want this network to function in some of our most remote areas as well as in our metro areas. With the collaboration and help from our public safety community, we will make sure everyone is properly represented.

Resources to stay informed:
For more information about the national FirstNet project you can browse to

To stay informed on the FirstNet effort in South Dakota you can browse to

Our state website:
Twitter: @SDPSBN
Follow along at:


BIT: A NCSAM Champion!

In light of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), BIT has decided to join the 400+ universities, colleges, businesses, government agencies and associations who are a part of the NCSAM Champion Program!Champions represent those dedicated to p…

Three Major Ways You Put Your Data At Risk

As large scale cyber incidents continue to make headlines, it is more important than ever to join together with a common message to help individuals of all ages and all segments of the community understand cyber threats and be safer and more secure online.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is joining with the Department of Homeland Security and its partners across the country to share tips on how we can protect our information and our identities online.

Here are the most common ways people put their personal data at risk:

1. Using weak passwords. Are your passwords part of the worst passwords of 2014 list? This list includes passwords such as “123456” and “password.” Do not choose an easy-to-guess password and do not use the same password for multiple accounts.

2. Keeping devices unprotected. If you are separated from your mobile device, you do not want anyone to be able to access all the data from your device, including data stored in your apps. Put your devices out of sight when you walk away from them and password-protect them.

3. Sharing too much information online. From including your birthdate, phone number, and address in your social media profiles to posting pictures of when you are on vacation, sharing too much online can give people enough information to access your accounts or your home when you are away. Wait until you’re home from your trip to post pictures.

Follow these tips from the national cybersecurity awareness campaign, Stop.Think.Connect.™ to be safer and more secure online:

·Secure your devices. Take advantage of lock screens, passwords, and fingerprint scanning capabilities to secure your smartphones, tablets, and computers.

·Set strong passwords. Make your passwords hard to guess, and change them regularly.

·Think before you app. Many mobile applications request access to information stored on your mobile device, including your contact lists, pictures, and location data. Determine if you really want to share such information before downloading the app.

·Do business with reputable vendors. Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that falsely appear to be legitimate companies.

·Customize the settings on your accounts. Many accounts include default settings that promote more information sharing. Check your account settings to ensure only the information you want to share is visible to those people you want to share it with.

For more information on NCSAM 2015, visit

To receive cyber security tips year round, visit and become a friend of the Campaign. The Stop.Think.Connect. online toolkit is filled with tips, facts, and shareable resources:


Gary Larson: Serving the State for 42 years!

On Friday, October 23rd, 2015 Gary Larson will be retiring from the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications.

Gary started working for the State of South Dakota on February 9, 1973.  Gary began his career with state government as a Data Clerk II, and through the course of 42 years, 13 promotions, being self-taught, and with no formal education in this field, Gary ultimately serves as a Software Engineer III with BIT.

When asked how technology has changed throughout the past 42 years, Gary explained, “When I started, everything was done on the mainframe. Programs were written in COBOL.  And I can remember sitting at a keypunch machine and keying in code (which had to be read using a card reader and transferred to the mainframe).  Now with the advent of Client Servers and and PCs, the mainframe almost appears to be becoming a thing of the past.”
Gary cites his biggest accomplishment at BIT as “keeping the mainframe Department of Public Safety Driver License application functioning at a high level since the early ‘80s.”

Gary will miss the people he has worked with over these many years, but looks forward to spending more time on the golf course, bowling, and maybe even getting back into fishing!

When asked to give a few words of wisdom to his fellow colleagues that he will be leaving behind, Gary playfully responded, “Get your 40 years in and then get outJ”.

Gary, although the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is proud to call you one of our own, there are a few other people who are also very proud of you as well…

Judy Larson:

“Gary has been my best friend and the love of my life for 42 years.  He has been a wonderful husband, father and provider.  I am so proud of his accomplishments with his job.  Not many people, any more, can say that they have been with the same department/job for their whole career.  The fact that he started pretty much at the bottom and has taken classes (that were offered way back then), self-taught, and has gotten to where he is today (which today would require a 4 year college degree!) is quite an accomplishment.  He never once in those 42 years even thought about changing jobs. He may be set in his ways, but look where it has gotten him!!!

I wish him the very best in his retirement and I hope he will enjoy himself to the fullest.  I know I will enjoy having a House Husband while I continue to work to provide health insurance for him for the next 2-3 years anyway.  Then look out world here we come!!!”

Chad Larson, 39:

“My father possesses many great qualities one of which is dedication.  He is very dedicated to family and work.  He worked for BIT for 42 1/2 years and has always been there for family no matter what.  He is a very kind-hearted and caring man who taught me the importance of loving and caring for others.  I think that is his greatest quality—his ability to love unconditionally.”

Colin Larson, 35:

“There are many reasons to be proud of my dad.  First and most important to me is –  he taught me what unconditional love is.  Don’t know how he did it ‘cause I was not one who made it easy on him!! But him being there for me no matter what the circumstance has meant more than I SHOW.  Another thing I’m proud of my father for is patience. I mean 42 years in a cubicle doing the same thing day in day out says a lot to me.  ONE JOB DAD? Hmm, more patience than I could ever have. My father is a “ONE OF A KIND” and I would never think anyone else could ever walk in his shoes – “They are Big”!!!

I love you father and everything you’ve done for this family. Now it is “Relax Time”!!!  I just hope I can be as good as you are when the time comes, whether it be one of my own, or when it’s my turn to take care of you!!I Love you Dad – HAPPY RETIREMENT!!”

Congratulations on your retirement Gary! We will miss you!

BIT: A NCSAM Champion!

In light of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), BIT has decided to join the 400+ universities, colleges, businesses, government agencies and associations who are a part of the NCSAM Champion Program!Champions represent those dedicated to p…

Fostering a Culture of Cybersecurity at the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications

In a world comprised of technical jargon and complicated concepts, the average person may not always completely understand their important role in cybersecurity. As recent major cyber incidents have shown, cyber criminals often rely on human error – from failing to install software patches to clicking on malicious links to creating easy-to-guess passwords- to gain access to systems and information.

From the top leadership and executive to the newest employee, cybersecurity requires the vigilance of every employee to keep data, customers, and capital safe and secure.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and

BIT is joining with the Department of Homeland Security and its partners across the country to engage individuals all ages and all segments of the community in the shared responsibility to secure cyberspace.

Take these simple actions to protect information at work, at home, and on the go:

· If something does happen, report it to the BIT Help Desk immediately
· Make your passwords complex. Use a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters (uppercase and lowercase)
· Change your passwords regularly (every 45 to 90 days)
· Keep your usernames, passwords, or other computer/ website access codes private and do not share them with anyone
· Only open emails and attachments from people you know
· Do NOT install or connect any personal software or hardware to your organization’s network without permission from the IT department
· Make electronic and physical back-ups or copies of all your important work
· When you work from home, secure your Internet connection by using a firewall, encrypt information, and hide your Wi-Fi network


In Our “Smart World” the Internet Touches all Aspects of Our Daily Lives

Is your thermostat putting your home network at risk? Things connected to the Internet –like smart thermostats, coffee pots, and refrigerators –need to be updated manually to protect the network to which they are connected.

In the future, our lives will become even more intertwined with technology. Our cars are quickly morphing into “computers on wheels,” the fully-connected home is nearly a reality and connected medical devices may offer tremendous benefits to our health and safety.

As technology continues to evolve and advance throughout all aspects of our life, securing a vast and complicated Internet ecosystem of smart devices including phones, wearables, cars, and more is critical to our safety and security.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and

BIT is joining with the Department of Homeland Security and its partners across the country to highlight the importance of cybersecurity to individuals of all ages and all segments of the community.

Follow the simple tips below to secure any object or device that sends or receives data automatically:

  • Keep any device that connects to the Internet free from viruses and malware by updating the software regularly and securing them with strong passwords whenever possible
  • Have a solid understanding of how a device works, the nature of its connection to the Internet, and the type of information it stores and transmits
  • Properly secure the wireless network you use to connect Internet enabled devices
  • Make the required manual updates to protect Internet-enabled devices. 

For more information on NCSAM 2015, visit

To receive cyber security tips year round, visit and become a friend of the Campaign. To help you start an online safety dialogue, the Stop.Think.Connect. online toolkit is filled with tips, facts, and shareable resources:


Please Welcome New Employee Morgan Schnell!

Morgan Schnell has recently joined BIT Development Team 1 as a Software Engineer I.

Morgan is a native to South Dakota, born in Aberdeen and raised in Watertown. After graduating from Watertown High School, he went on to attend college at Dakota State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Video Game Design with a 3.8 GPA.

His degree offered him insight into graphic design and narrative writing. Most importantly, a solid background in programming and the ability to work in a team-driven environment. These insights have provided a great transition into Morgan’s interest in software development through the latter years of his schooling. Morgan decided to move to Pierre after hearing about BIT from a handful of friends at school! He looks forward to gaining insight and further developing his skills as a programmer here at BIT!

In his spare time, he loves to play video games (admittedly, more than the average person). His interest in developing video games has led him to break down each game he plays at a mechanical level allowing him to analyze and think about what he did and didn’t like about the game’s internet working, and how he could improve it if given the opportunity. Aside from this he also enjoys watching comedy or action movies, collecting figures, and building model kits in his spare time.

Welcome to BIT, Morgan! We are happy to have you!