SC Agencies Wary of Talking About New Computer Security -

SC Agencies Wary of Talking About New Computer Security

By Robert Kittle

It's been three months since a hacker got into the computer system at the South Carolina Department of Revenue and stole the personal information from 6.4 million taxpayers, their dependents, and businesses. But some state agencies have not put in place some recommended new computer security measures, while others won't talk about what they have or have not done.

After the hacking was discovered, security experts recommended that the Department of Revenue encrypt all its data, and add a new step for accessing computers that they say would likely have prevented the hack in the first place. It's called dual authentication. Instead of needing only a username and password to log in to the computer system, users need a second authentication, which is a random number that changes every 30 or 60 seconds. Employees can have the numbers texted to their phones or they can carry small key fobs that show the changing numbers.

The agency was also advised to use a monitoring service that watches its computer network around the clock for signs of hacking.

The Department of Revenue has put in place all of those recommendations, or is in the process of doing so.

Other agencies have also added that extra security, but not all agencies have added all of it.

The Department of Public Safety is using 24/7 network monitoring. It encrypts some of its data but not all of it, and is studying whether to encrypt more. It's moving to dual-factor authentication for access.

The Department of Education says it encrypts student and teacher information and also uses identity management.

The Department of Health and Human Services is using around-the-clock network monitoring, encrypts all its data and uses multi-factor authentication.

The State Law Enforcement Division would not talk about what computer security measures it has in place. A spokesman says the agency doesn't want to publicize any information that a hacker might use.

The DMV, which has tons of personal information, also declined to talk about its specific computer security measures.

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis says his agency's network is monitored around the clock. "We banked $34 billion last year. We have $25 billion in a separate custody account for our investments. We manage a lot of money, and along with that comes a lot of responsibility," he says.

His agency encrypts some data and uses other methods on other information. He says the agency is moving to new, state-of-the-art computer security, though.

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