Dayton proposes state cybersecurity upgrade

Published 12:46 pm Saturday, February 4, 2017

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a $125 million technology upgrade for Minnesota government that includes tighter cybersecurity protections.

Dayton’s budget proposal includes $74 million to boost Minnesota’s cybersecurity defenses. The funds would help Minnesota create secure data centers and hire more cybersecurity experts.

Myron Frans, the state’s management and budget commissioner, said Dayton is also proposing $51 million for improvements to Minnesota’s IT infrastructure.

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“We believe there are many opportunities to really enhance both the security level of our IT infrastructure but also to improve the overall functioning, so that the citizens of Minnesota get services from Minnesota state government at a quicker and more efficient way than they are now,” he said.

Minnesota Information Technology Services Commissioner Tom Baden said threats to state government systems are becoming more frequent and sophisticated every day.

“It’s not uncommon for me to see 3 million attacks from 150 international locations, a phishing attack through email looking for credentials or even ransomware attacks, on any given day,” he said. “Multiple concurrent events are happening constantly.”

One of the biggest threats comes from dedicated denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks. Chris Buse, the state’s chief information security officer, said these attacks occur when hackers try to flood government systems with so much traffic that they crash the systems or make them unusable.

Last year, one such attack took down the Minnesota court system website for 10 days.

Dayton’s plan could receive support from a Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who is calling for similar improvements to state agency computer systems.