Senators Asked To Consider Adding 2 Computer Oversight Jobs -

Senators Asked To Consider Adding 2 Computer Oversight Jobs

By Robert Kittle

A survey of chief information officers at South Carolina state agencies found that computer security is still "less than adequate", despite all the attention on security after a hacker stole the personal information of more than 4 million South Carolina taxpayers in September.

State Inspector General Patrick Maley gave his report Wednesday to senators on a special subcommittee that's investigating the hacking at the Department of Revenue. He questioned chief information officers at 18 state agencies.

"They had an assessment that their agencies themselves were just marginally below adequate in capabilities and they view information security across the state as less than adequate," he told senators.

He says one of the biggest problems is that there is no centralized plan or process for computer security in the state.

Jimmy Earley, director of the Division of State Information Technology, told senators they should consider hiring two people: a chief information security officer to oversee computer security; and a separate privacy officer who would define exactly what should be protected.

He also gave senators some statistics that point out how far the state needs to go to beef up computer security. A recent nationwide survey found that states across the country raised their computer security budgets by 14 percent, but financial institutions raised their computer security spending by more than 60 percent.

And while half of states have between 1 and 5 computer security professionals, almost half of financial institutions have more than 100 full-time employees focused on computer security.

Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, one of the senators on the special subcommittee, says he thinks the state's computer systems are more secure than they were before the hack was discovered.

"I would imagine every single agency is taking a very careful look at their security because it's the topic of the day," he says. "The near future, I think we're okay, but my worry is down the road, two-three years down the road do we get comfortable? And with technology that changes by the second and hackers are getting smarter--they will continue to get smarter--we can't afford to ever, ever get this comfortable with our data."

The subcommittee will meet again next week to hear from the state Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bankers' Association and Experian, the company that's providing South Carolinians with credit monitoring and fraud resolution.


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