S.C. inspector general calls for statewide security program

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Following the massive breach that affected 80 percent of South Carolina taxpayers, the state's Inspector General Patrick Maley has recommended several corrective security actions.

He blamed the breach, which occurred at the state Department of Revenue, on the state's current decentralized method of handling information security.

“The lack of standard policies produces uneven quality in individual agency security postures,” Maley said. “This decentralized approach also prevents the state from understanding, let alone managing, statewide [information security] risk, which has the capacity to impact the entire state government.” 

To respond to this, Maley proposed that a statewide information security program be established, as well as a federated governance model. He also recommended the state hire a CISO, who would operate autonomous of South Carolina's IT department, to lead information security program initiatives, and a consultant who might aid in the implementation of the new framework.

Issued Tuesday, the report (PDF) was requested by Gov. Nikki Haley on Oct. 26, the same day South Carolina officials announced that its Department of Revenue had been hacked, resulting in the theft of Social Security numbers of 3.8 electronic tax filers, as well as 1.9 million of their dependents. In addition, nearly 700,000 businesses, 3.3 million bank accounts and 5,000 expired credit cards were compromised.

As part of the report, agency CIOs were interviewed about South Carolina's current information security posture as part of the report. Most rated their own agency's information security capabilities as low, 2.9 on a scale of one to 5, as well as the statewide capacity for security, which scored 1.7 on average among respondents.

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