Mississippi invests in secure county systems

Of Mississippi's 82 counties, only 45 have e-mail capability. But the state is aiming to turn this around with a cybersecurity assessment of its counties that will serve as the foundation for a secure enterprisewide system and provide connectivity with state, local and federal government.

Mississippi officials announced yesterday that they had secured $820,000 from the Homeland Security Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness to do a county-by-county cybersecurity assessment.

Each county will receive up to $10,000 for cybersecurity, said Mick Bullock, public affairs director for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. If, for example, it only cost $2,500 to perform a security assessment of Marion County's systems, the remaining $7,500 could be used to buy firewalls or encryption software.

The State Auditor's Office already oversees several of the state's e-government initiatives, such as renewing driver's licenses over the Internet, Bullock said. Auditing cybersecurity was a natural fit for the office, Bullock said.

'Mississippi has a modest computer system out in the counties,' said state auditor Phil Bryant. The cybersecurity assessment is a first step in linking state, federal and local systems, he said.

'We need to carefully determine what we need in the counties,' Bryant said. 'We want to make sure we're not running silos out there.'

The State Auditor's Office will work with the Mississippi Homeland Security Department and county governments to implement the cybersecurity program, beginning Oct. 1.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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