Major IT requests aimed to increase state’s cybersecurity

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While most executive agencies are holding even in funding, the state's IT department is looking at a substantial increase- in money and workers. The governor recommended more than $55 million added to the department's budget, but it's not what it seems. That money would go to unification costs and cybersecurity.

The state's IT department can monitor all sorts of issues and threats against their network. North Dakota is a prime target.

“A lot of different entities from K12 to higher ed, state, political subdivisions all landing on the same network so it's a pretty large attack surface,” said Sean Wiese, the state’s chief information security officer.

To shore up that network, Governor Burgum proposed adding people and money to the state's cyber team, along with continuing IT unification at the agency level. The goal is to get 78 percent of the executive branch protected. Only 22 percent is protected now.

"So it is a pretty big leap. It does move us much further in the scale and gives us a much better protection across the state,” said Shawn Riley, the state’s chief information officer

An internal review in September showed the state's security ranks average at 1.2 out of 5. If IT's request goes through, they could move up to a 3.1. Representative Corey Mock, who served on the interim IT committee and House appropriations, says recent data breaches show how costly a lack of security can be.

"To make amends, to shore up their data, to build or rebuild that trust and integrity from their customers is astronomical. That cost is something that cannot be measured on most balance sheets,” said Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks

But Mock says they're not going to blindly sign off and the legislature will do their homework before appropriating money. ITD says the state faces more than 5 million cyber-attacks a onth and they're doing everything they can to keep data safe.