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TMCNet:  S.C. Senate committee will investigate hacking problem

[November 15, 2012]

S.C. Senate committee will investigate hacking problem

COLUMBIA, Nov 14, 2012 (Florence Morning News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The South Carolina Senate has formed a special committee to look into the hacking of the South Carolina Department of Revenue computer system that exposed more than 4 million state tax returns -- including millions of Social Security numbers -- to possible theft.

Sens. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) and William O'Dell (R-Abbeville) will co-chair the committee. Other members include John W. Matthews (D-Orangeburg) and Darrell Jackson (D-Richland). The committee was formed after SCDOR chief James Etter offered less than what the Senate Finance Committee was seeking during a special hearing last week.

"There were more questions than there were answers," said Senate Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), the finance committee's chair.

Mike Shealy, the Senate Finance Committe staffer who'll be supporting the committee, said Leatherman has charged the committee with discovering, "what happened, how it happened, what's being done to make sure it doesn't happen again, and what is the state's liability and obligation" to the millions of citizens who's personal information has been at risk, essentially for the rest of their lives.

Shealy a significant question will deal with how the overall structure of state government affects the security question. In particular, Leatherman wants to know if the S.C. Budget Control Board could have, or should have, played a greater role.

The Division of State Information Technology, a sub group of the Budget Control Board, oversees the hardware purchases and installation for all state government. Some state agencies also use the DSIT to coordinate their security and monitoring funcitions.

Shealy said about half the state's cabinet level agencies do use the DSIT. SCDOR did not.

"So I think it's safe to say some questions will be asked about that," Shealy said.

Wednesday, Gov. Nikki Haley signed an executive order directing cabinet agencies to work with state DSIT to implement network monitoring to include 24-hour a day monitoring as well as intervention and interrupting of unusual events or viruses. The governor also encouraged all non-cabinet agencies to work with DSIT to identify weaknesses in current network monitoring and implement stronger monitoring services where needed.

Shealy said the cyber-hacking subcommittee would begin meeting ni about two weeks. It will hear extensive testimony then, hopefully, have preliminary reccomendations available before the end of the year so that the information gleaned can be factored into to what Shealy believes will be a "flurry" of legislation introduced addressing the problem prior to the start of the January legislative session.

___ (c)2012 Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) Visit the Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) at www2.scnow.com/community/morningnews Distributed by MCT Information Services

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