Ohio Lawmaker Wants To Create Cyber Security Council To Protect Residents’ Information


UPDATED: Monday July 16, 2012 3:53 PM

From the moment you’re born to the day you die, the State of Ohio collects thousands of pieces of information about your life.

A number of safeguards are in place to prevent things, like social security numbers, from getting in the hands of cyber hackers.

Now, one state lawmaker wants to form a cyber security council for the state. It would be the first of its kind in the country.

Republican state Rep. Michael Dovilla of Berea is on a mission to make Ohio safe from cyber attacks and said that he thinks the state could do a better job of it.

Dovilla is the lead sponsor of House Bill 331, which would create a council of public and private security experts to work together to protect critical information from hackers.

“It’s important they’re protecting the identity of Ohioans,” Dovilla said.

David Shaw, former chief information officer from the Office of Information Security and Privacy, said that cyber hackers constantly are working to unlock security doors that lead to personal information.

“In a traditional month, we’ll investigate somewhere around 20 incidents,” Shaw said. “Hackers are smart, just like everybody else.”

The department’s goal is to outsmart hackers to protect Ohioans’ information.

“It’s not always the information that they are after; sometimes they are simply after compromising a system,” Shaw said.

At the hub of Ohio’s cyber security system, a real-time readout shows every piece of information coming into Ohio from around the world.

According to Shaw, Russia, Germany, Spain, Brazil and South American countries contribute to traffic like computer viruses, worms and spam designed to slow down, shut down or unlock security system doors.

“These events that we’re seeing here are being blocked by our tools or network,” Shaw said. “We want to make it increasingly difficult for somebody who wants to do harm to get into the systems.”

In recent years, state officials have made significant changes to its cyber security policy.

Encrypted information is installed on state computers that workers take home. State-issued mobile phones also carry encrypted information incase phones are lost or stolen.

Darren Arnolds, the state’s chief privacy officer, said that an example of this increased encryption includes truncated driver’s license numbers.

“No longer will workers see every screen, for example, a driver’s license number, instead, they’ll see a truncated version or they won’t see it at all,” Arnolds said. “We have to be diligent across the board.”

Dovilla said that he wants the state to be even more diligent.

“It’s important they’re protecting the identity of Ohioans,” Dovilla said.

Dovilla, who is a former Navy intelligence officer, said that he wants public and private security experts to work together and share the best practices of protecting critical information from hackers.

“I think it’s a very serious challenge and a very serious threat,” Dovilla said.

In 2010, hackers accessed an unsecured server at The Ohio State University and reached more than 700,000 records of former and current students.

In 2007, a government intern allowed to take home a back-up storage disk, had it stolen from his car. The names and Social Security numbers of all 64,000 state employees, along with thousands of others, were on the disk.

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