Crushing Compliance at County Level

Aligning Cybersecurity With FBI Mandates

Fergus County

Fergus County is geographically the most central location in Montana — it serves a primarily rural population of approximately 12,000 spread across 4,350 sq. miles. It has a full range of municipal services including county law enforcement, land management and planning, health services, transportation and civil engineering, legal and judicial services, agricultural extension, and local government leadership. The county engaged First Call Computer Solutions to augment the County’s inhouse IT resources with helpdesk and IT infrastructure management services.

Industry: Government
Company Size: 65+ Employees
Location: Lewistown, MT

Without First Call, we would never have been able to become compliant with current FBI mandates. I don’t have the knowledge to do that. Our office simply does not have the expertise.

Rick Vaughn

Sheriff, Fergus County



Fergus County’s Sheriffs Office took on the challenges posed by implementing federally mandated DOD cyber security regulations that are now being filtered to all local law enforcement agencies throughout Montana by the state Department of Justice.  Implementing these regulations is required to maintain connectivity to the State’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) and assure protections to Criminal Justice information of Fergus County residents.

The specific challenges with adhering to these regulations are both budgetary and technical, particularly for Montana’s more rural Law Enforcement Agencies where careful budgetary stewardship is a must and added complexity in the computing environment, if not implemented thoughtfully, will stress the department’s staffing. Further, staff focused on law enforcement can easily become challenged by the technical expertise needed to interpret requirements and respond to State Inquiries and the CJIS Security Policy Questionnaire, making it a daunting task.


Adhere to Federally Mandated Regulations

Keep Connection to CJIN

Protect Criminal Justice Information



First Call worked collaboratively with Fergus County’s Sheriffs Department to distill the regulatory requirements into actionable projects; each moving the Department closer to compliance.  The projects implemented included:

Advanced Cyber Security – providing actively monitored network and dark web monitoring services, password management, and regular education and testing for department users.

Multi-Factor Authentication – providing increased physical security to all workstations in the Sheriff’s office environment.

Password Complexity – to align with industry standards and reduce the likelihood of a breach by bad actors.

These solutions were chosen because 80% of all breaches are still related to compromised weak and re-used passwords.  And the 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report determined that 29% of those breaches involved the use of stolen credentials.  To close this gap within the guidance provided by the State Department of Justice, the Sheriff’s Department layered in Cybersecurity technologies and practices to:

Monitor for potential malicious activity on the network

Monitor the dark web for credentials actively being trafficked or at risk

Educate staff on cybersecurity best practices regularly to maintain awareness and vigilance

Safeguard systems with multi-factor authentication to thwart would-be bad actors

Manage passwords in a secure tool to support the increased complexity of passwords and their use/reuse and minimize the impact of stolen credentials.


The best security practices dictate that security measures be applied in layers; layers that both secure digital information and work within the environment to support the existing workforce and workflows without performance degradation.

With the implementation of First Call’s Advanced Cyber Security and the guidance of their vCIO and technical engineers, Fergus County has been able to achieve industry and government mandated compliance and maintain critical access to integrated criminal justice systems.

By becoming compliant we have taken highly sensitive criminal justice records, that are placed in our care, to a new level. With the assistance of First Call we are keeping sensitive information from the bad guys! As a law enforcement agency that is extremely important to us. We go out on patrol every day and night to protect and serve. In today’s world, with computer information being a huge commodity on the criminal dark web, that isn’t enough. Now we are in a much better position to protect and serve in a cyber situation

Rick Vaughn

Sheriff, Fergus County

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