Minn. governor proposes $125M IT, cybersecurity upgrade

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In this Jan. 24, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton smiles as he waits to brief the media on his state budget in St. Paul, Minn. Dayton, who collapsed Monday evening while delivering his State of the State address, announced at the briefing that he has prostate cancer. Mayo Clinic spokesman Karl Oestreich said Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, that Dayton's cancer hasn't spread beyond his prostate and is curable. He says Dayton should be able to continue serving as governor "without significant interruption." (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a $125 million technology upgrade for Minnesota government that includes tighter cybersecurity protections.

Dayton’s budget proposal includes $74 million to boost Minnesota’s cybersecurity defenses, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. The funds would help Minnesota create secure data centers and hire more cybersecurity experts.

Myron Frans, the state’s management and budget commissioner, says Dayton is also proposing $51 million for improvements to Minnesota’s IT infrastructure.

“We believe there are many opportunities to really enhance both the security level of our IT infrastructure but also to improve the overall functioning, so that the citizens of Minnesota get services from Minnesota state government at a quicker and more efficient way than they are now,” he said.

Minnesota Information Technology Services Commissioner Tom Baden said threats to state government systems are becoming more frequent and sophisticated every day.

“It’s not uncommon for me to see 3 million attacks from 150 international locations, a phishing attack through email looking for credentials or even ransomware attacks, on any given day,” he said. “Multiple concurrent events are happening constantly.”

One of the biggest threats comes from dedicated denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks. Chris Buse, the state’s chief information security officer, says these attacks occur when hackers try to flood government systems with so much traffic that they crash the systems or make them unusable.

Last year, one such attack took down the Minnesota court system website for 10 days.

Dayton’s plan could receive support from a Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who is calling for similar improvements to state agency computer systems.

Information from Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org.