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Center stops millions of daily cyber attacks on AL state network

(Lydia Nusbaum)
Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 7:40 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There are millions of attempted cyber attacks every dayon the Alabama state computer network, which contains sensitive state information.

To stop those attacks, Governor Kay Ivey announced Monday the official opening of Alabama’s first Security Operations Center (SOC).

“There is such a wide range of uses for our technology in today’s world," Ivey said, “which means we must do our part to ensure cyber security, especially on our state’s technology system.”

The SOC has blocked 800 million attacks on the state’s firewalls. It stopped unauthorized users from accessing the network and personal computers.

“The bad guys, the hackers, the people behind cyber crime, there are thousands and thousands of them and a lot of them are in foreign countries,” said Ryan Allen, the Chief Information Security Officer for the state.

Allen noted some people attacking Alabama’s network come from Russia, China and even the Netherlands.

Election data is also stored in the state’s network, but Secretary of State John Merrill says there has not been a breach of that data. The office works with other state agencies in the center to make sure that continues.

“If we continue to fortify our back sources it enables us to be stronger, better prepared, and enables us to continue to move in the direction we need to move to protect our people’s interests,” Merrill said.

Merrill said the office keeps paper ballots for two years after an election.

“So we’re not placed in a vulnerable situation to strictly rely on the information that has been transmitted to us from the local county and the city when we upload that for election night reporting or when we retain that information for our election certified results after the election has ended,” the secretary stated.

This is the number of cyberattacks the Security Operations Center blocked at 10 a.m. Monday,...
This is the number of cyberattacks the Security Operations Center blocked at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1, 2017.

Around 10 a.m. Monday morning there were more than 21 million attempted cyber attacks, and experts say that number can rise to 100 million by the end of the day.

“The best thing that we can do is work together," Allen explained. "If I see one problem at one agency, I know it’s not going to be long before I see it at the others.”

The Office of Information Technology launched its new cyber security website: http://cybersecurity.alabama.gov. which tells parents and business owners what they should know about cyber security threats and potential dangers.

“We have resources that provide safety advice for their children online because we know that’s a real issue,” Allen said. “We want to make sure people know where they can go and get information to protect their kids."

The OIT, Alabama National Guard, and Secretary of State’s office held several meetings in August to discuss what the protocol would be if there were a successful attack.

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