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Cybersecurity in Partnership

What we mean when we talk about “Securing State Services”

10/11/2017 2:50:13 PM

A team of cybersecurity professionals working.

Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) is, by nature, a highly collaborative state agency. Working in tandem with over 70 government agencies, boards, and commissions, we provide enterprise and local IT services that enable our partners to effectively serve the people of Minnesota.

Nearly every government function that Minnesotans depend on is reliant upon technology. The Department of Transportation uses technology to keep busses running on time and to monitor traffic. The Department of Health uses technology to track infectious disease and evaluate healthcare programs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development fosters a job-friendly economic climate that helps businesses expand with the aid of technology. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency uses technology to keep our rivers, lakes, and land free from contaminants. The Department of Human Services gets Minnesotans access to the care and programs they need through, you guessed it, technology!

Those are only a few examples from a few state agencies. Add everything together - all 70 those boards and commissions - and you start to see that almost every public service that touches Minnesotans relies on technology to be delivered in a timely fashion.

When Minnesota IT Services talks about the importance of securing state systems, we’re talking about keeping state IT systems up and running to support the programs Minnesotans depend on. More than simply keeping citizen’s private information safe from malicious hackers, cybersecurity involves maintaining our IT infrastructure so that Minnesotans can get the care they need, when they need it.

Last summer, cyber-attackers used WannaCry to exploit a vulnerability in Windows. The cyber-attack encrypted data in computers running on outdated Windows software and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin payment. This article from The Guardian explains how the cyber-attack disrupted daily services at hospitals and health clinics after attacking the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). Public records, appointment schedules, internal phone lines, and emails were rendered inaccessible, and connections between computers and medical equipment were brought down. In some cases, new patients couldn’t be booked, prescriptions couldn’t be written, operations were cancelled, and ambulances were diverted.

Minnesota systems escaped this attack, but the NHS was not so lucky. Currently, many of Minnesota’s systems are outdated and the technology behind them is unsupported – which makes them a prime target for cyber-attackers. The volume and sophistication of cyber-attacks is growing, but state government works around the clock to meet the threat where it’s at. Minnesota IT Services fights to prioritize cybersecurity for State government – we need the critical systems that support Minnesotans to keep running.


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