- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The tech experts charged with protecting Minnesota’s vast state government computer network from hackers are seeking more money to shore up their cyber defenses.

Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the Legislature for more than $45 million, including $20 million for general cybersecurity upgrades and $25 million for extra safeguards at state agencies with an acute need. But the governor’s request is getting a skeptical reaction from at least one key Republican.

The pitch has failed to win over House State Government Finance Committee Chair Sarah Anderson, who said the state’s major computing projects of late give her pause, especially the MNsure health insurance exchange, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1pkKK1d ) reported. Her panel has allocated $500,000 for a security study.

“We just need to be more thoughtful when it comes to technology as a state. Hopefully, this study will put us on the right foot because I don’t want to have a situation where we blow through $20 million and haven’t truly addressed the problem at the end of the day,” Anderson said.

Minnesota needs to step up its defenses to protect sensitive information, including tax returns, health records and licensing databases, according to the state’s chief information security officer, Christopher Buse.

“Every day computer hackers find new vulnerabilities in software,” he said. “The onus is on us as security professionals to proactively find and fix those issues before they could potentially be exploited.”

Buse said he’s concerned about hackers who try to find and exploit gaps in the state’s computer network through spear phishing, botnet armies, cyber disruptors and other attacks.

Spending more on the state’s cybersecurity “does not guarantee that you won’t have any incidents,” Buse said. “But it’s necessary today because the adversaries are more advanced. They’re more sophisticated.”

About $435,000 of the state’s current budget is set aside next year specifically for cybersecurity.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org


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