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Texas setting up security office
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 21:21:41 -0500 (CDT)


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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