John DeBoer is the Manager of Information Technology (IT) and has worked for KEC for 15 years.
What made you interested in working as an IT professional?
I’ve been interested in working with computers since an early age. My family got a computer when I was eight years old, and I spent a lot of time playing with it and breaking it, which forced me to figure out how to fix it before mom and dad found out. Although I studied an unrelated subject in college, I always retained that interest and knowledge in computers. I had the opportunity to jump start my career in IT at a school district in New Mexico where I worked on a small team that supported technology across multiple schools. That role cultivated my hobby into a career that eventually led me to KEC.
What does a day look like for you as the IT Manager?
Everything runs on IT these days, including your local electric cooperative. One of the most significant aspects of my role is ensuring KEC’s cybersecurity systems are operational. KEC utilizes firewalls, antivirus, email filtering, patching and more to ensure KEC’s systems are as secure as possible. Cyber threats are what keep me up at night, so I monitor new vulnerabilities and cyber headlines regularly.
I also supervise a team of IT professionals that takes care of KEC and employee technical needs, including an internal help desk service. With more than 100 employees we have numerous computers, printers, laptops, iPads, servers, networks and more to maintain. An understanding of how the cooperative’s departments work together to accomplish our goals allows IT to tailor better solutions and provide the best service to our internal “customers” or employees.
What is KEC doing to prevent cybersecurity threats or incidents?
Maintaining and enhancing the security of KEC’s networks and electric grid is a top priority for the cooperative. We invest in the best technology possible to protect our system and employ the IT staff needed to run it. We also invest in cybersecurity training for employees across the organization—they are key to keeping our network secure. This training includes educating our employees to be aware of social engineering and the dangers of clicking links in emails and opening files from unknown sources. Cybersecurity threats will continue to evolve and require on going vigilance and innovation.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
Keeping all of KEC’s employees engaged in cybersecurity—we can never rest easy.
What is the best part of your job?
Solving a problem for an employee and seeing them freed up and more productive in other areas. I enjoy seeing my coworkers’ jobs get easier because of things I’ve done.