[ISN] Texas setting up security office

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 19:21:41 PDT

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    BY Dibya Sarkar 
    June 5, 2001 
    Texas is poised to become the first state government to establish an
    information technology security office to apply policies and monitor
    the Internet architecture.
    The move is designed to bolster cybersecurity among the states 200 or
    so agencies and build public trust as more government services move
    The state legislature approved $600,000 in its general appropriations
    bill to fund the office for the next two years. It is likely to be
    approved by Gov. Rick Perry, who has until June 17 to sign it into
    law, said Mel Mireles, statewide IT planning manager in the Department
    of Information Resources ({http://www.dir.state.tx.us}
    www.dir.state.tx.us). Mireles would head the new office.
    The idea of a central security office is an outgrowth of a recently
    released Sprint study that analyzed statewide Internet security
    policies and processes. Sprint, a global communications company, also
    conducted "vulnerability assessments" in which it tried to breach the
    governments IT security.
    "We had an idea that security probably wasnt as robust in the state as
    we move services online. What was evident is that either agencies have
    policies that are not being enforced, are not being followed for the
    most part, or there were no policies," Mireles said.
    "When you couple that with the lack of perimeter security
    infrastructure, hardware, software you get a kind of a double whammy
    here," he said, "because if Ive got the configuration that needs to
    happen at my infrastructure level and...those policies arent followed,
    [then] I kind of negate that infrastructure."
    The Texas DIR has somewhat played that security role over the past
    decade, Mireles said, but a dedicated office would be more proactive
    in communicating, monitoring and evaluating policies, standards and
    procedures to its agencies. The office also would continue testing the
    states Internet defenses and try to find vulnerable points. Additional
    security services would be outsourced, he said.
    Bob Robinson, Sprints director of security practice, said Texas may be
    the first of several other states looking at an enterprise model for
    security. New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Virginia apparently are
    also interested.
    "For the state to take this approach is something that is very
    remarkable, and it shows a forward-looking mature outlook on security
    on a state level," Robinson said. "It gives people in the state this
    feeling that their information and their politics are being monitored
    and cared for, so it does give a very positive look for the state."
    If approved, Texas security office will open Sept. 1, the start of the
    states fiscal year.
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