The administration of Gov. Mark Dayton has rolled out a five-year strategic plan to improve state government’s cybersecurity in the face of daily attacks from more than 150 countries, according to Minnesota IT Services, the state’s computer agency, also known as MN.IT.
“The cyber threat is growing more sophisticated, more skilled, more organized, and more professional,” said MN.IT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne. “We need to shore up our cybersecurity defenses against those intent on stealing our personal information or disrupting the services on which so many Minnesotans rely.”
Dayton’s 2018 budget would spend an additional $19.7 million on cybersecurity by moving systems to secure data centers, upgrading unsecure networking equipment, hiring staff, and funding software to prevent hacker attacks.
The beleaguered agency has become a political hot potato for the Dayton administration following the troubled rollout of a new driver’s license and car registration system whose technology has been flawed.
Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, who chairs a key House oversight committee, criticized Dayton and MN.IT for misplaced priorities. “Despite cybersecurity being a ‘top priority,’ MN.IT opted to spend millions on new cubicles and office upgrades. Their spending priorities should be focused on cybersecurity,” she said.
Matt Swenson, Dayton’s deputy chief of staff, called the criticism “absurd,” pointing to Dayton’s proposal to spend $125 million on computer upgrades and cybersecurity advances, much of which was rejected by the Legislature in 2017.