State Auditor report reveals weaknesses in state government’s cyber security

Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 6:21 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Cyber security is a hot topic nationally, but what about right here in the state?

“Whether you like it or not, your personal information probably lives on a state computer somewhere,” said State Auditor Shad White.

State Auditor White’s office sent a cyber security survey to 125 state government offices.

“Of those 125, only 71 replied," White explained. "That leaves 54 that did not reply at all to the survey. So, we have absolutely no idea whether those 54 are compliant on cyber security laws and we have no idea if they’re protecting the data.”

But it’s still not the best picture when you look at those who did reply. The survey found over half of all respondents are less than 75% compliant with state cyber security laws.

“The system is weak," said White. "We know that. So, we need to do something about it.”

Another problem with all government offices not paying attention to cyber security concerns? All of the computer system are connected in various ways and a weak link agency could provide an even bigger window for a hacker.

“Another thing that state agencies are required to do is have a third party assessment," added White. “So, that’s a fancy way of saying someone from the outside needs to be paid to come in and try to break in and hack your system. A lot of state agencies are doing that. Unfortunately, many are not.”

This report didn’t reveal the specific offices that aren’t complying with the law. Here’s why.

“It would’ve been irresponsible of me to say x agency hasn’t encrypted their data,” noted White. “Because then I’m telling the world, that’s where you need to go and hack because they’re not encrypting their data.”

When asked what concerned taxpayers should do, he suggests reaching out to lawmakers about holding these offices accountable about being in compliance with cyber security laws.

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