Tech chief: Richland at ‘low risk’ to computer hackers

dhinshaw@thestate.com November 14, 2012 

— While Richland County believes it is at a low risk to computer hackers, its information technology chief wants an outside review of its security measures.

“We’re not at a high risk. We don’t have the kind of valuable information that, say, the state has,” Janet Claggett, the county’s IT chief for the past 16 years, said Tuesday.

Claggett said the county has a lot of encrypted data but has identified some data bases that need additional measures. Tuesday, she asked Richland County Council to spend $115,000 for a security audit and improvements.

“The data that needs to be encrypted is not exposed to the internet,” Claggett said. That means it is very unlikely that it could be accessed by an outsider, she said.

When data is encrypted, reading it requires a key to a secret code.

Hackers already have access to millions of S.C. taxpayers’ names, birthdates and Social Security numbers through a breach revealed in October at the S.C. Department of Revenue. That leaves those taxpayers vulnerable to identity theft.

“The worst has happened,” Claggett acknowledged. “There’s not much more we have that hasn’t already been released.” Still, she said the county has a responsibility to make sure its computer records are secure.

She wants to hire Mandiant, the same security auditing firm being used by state government, to assess potential vulnerabilities.

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