States tap cybersecurity grants; DHS releases money from 2004 budget

As part of an ongoing statewide computer security audit, Florida decided to hack into the network of one of its 38 agencies last year to gauge the agency's information security vulnerabilities. To breach the network, the state technology office hired a company to train a select group of employees to perform the task.

As part of an ongoing statewide computer security audit, Florida decided to hack into the network of one of its 38 agencies last year to gauge the agency's information security vulnerabilities. To breach the network, the state technology office hired a company to train a select group of employees to perform the task.This kind of self-inflicted computer attack, known as ethical hacking, shows the agency how a hack occurs and what can be done to prevent future attempts to breach security. "It's one you know is coming and that you can learn from," said Mike Russo, chief information security officer for the Florida State Technology Office. "We wanted to make sure that [our systems] were hardened."Florida's ethical hacking exercise, which was overseen by the state technology office, is one of the more creative ways states are strengthening their systems and closing security gaps. With states facing the third straight year of flat budgets, it hasn't been easy for them to implement new security measures.But this fall, the Department of Homeland Security began allowing states to use a portion of the $2.2 billion in fiscal 2004 federal grants for cybersecurity. The money is first given to the states, which must pass along 80 percent of the funds to local government within 60 days after the grant award. This is the first time DHS has allowed the grant money to be used for cybersecurity, said Chris Dixon, digital issues coordinator for the Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State Chief Information Officers. Previously, most homeland security grants went to first responders. Under the State Homeland Security Program, states can apply for grants to cover costs related to the purchase of specialized equipment for cybersecurity as well as the design, development and conduct of training programs and exercises, according to DHS' Office of Domestic Preparedness.Despite tight budgets, state technology offices have made significant progress toward improving information security, according to analysts and industry observers. They have addressed security from an enterprise rather than an agency-specific standpoint and by taking basic security steps, such as constructing firewalls, installing and testing intrusion prevention software and conducting Web filtering and e-mail monitoring.States routinely purchase products from companies specializing in information security, and receive alerts and notices pertaining to information security from them as well.Security companies can expect to see continuing demand for products and solutions that address critical incident response, technology watch and technology audits and penetration tests, according to analysts and state officials. The areas most likely to spawn large technology projects are business continuity and disaster recovery, they said.In Arizona, state officials want to develop an enterprise security office that would make security policies and procedures uniform across more than 100 agencies, said Jim Ryan, homeland security technology manager with the Arizona Government Information Technology Agency."IT vulnerability is increasing exponentially," he said. "Every agency needs to be on the same security requirements."Michigan performed one of the most comprehensive security initiatives. The so-called Secure Michigan Initiative was a five-step project designed to take the state government from a rapid risk assessment to a strategic plan to correct existing gaps and vulnerabilities. The project won the 2003 National Association of State Chief Information Officers Recognition Award in the Security and Business Continuity category.State officials have been forced to think of creative ways to work with the private sector on computer and network security matters because of the state budget crisis, said Teri Takai, Michigan's chief information officer. "Given the budget situation, we've done as much as we can without putting out new contracts," she said.For now, Michigan wants to piggyback some of its major security initiatives into other technology projects, she said. For example, the state intends to bundle its disaster recovery requirements into its infrastructure consolidation initiative, she said.Florida's ethical hacking approach was one of the ways the state is coping with computer security on a shoestring budget, said Kim Bahrami, Florida's chief information officer. The Florida State Technology Office spends about $2 million annually on information security, which is less than most other states, she said.Florida Gov. Jeb Bush supported the ethical hacking project because it helped the state meet its security objectives without hiring additional employees, she said. "Gov. Bush believes it is important to address security issues by taking an out-of-the-box approach," she said. "Security does not mean a huge employee buildup."Florida's experience with ethical hacking changed the way security personnel watch and monitor state computer networks, Russo said. One of the most noticeable changes was that it pushed the state toward intrusion detection and prevention systems. Ethical hacking "will always be part of our security strategy," he said. "How we use it and when we use it will be determined as we move along. It is one of those pieces [of our strategy] that we will use from time to time." Staff writer William Welsh can be reached at wwelsh@postnewsweektech.com.

Terry Takai, Michigan's chief information officer










































NEXT STORY: Child care accountability

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.