Midland County, Mich., to Undergo Cybersecurity Audit

Federal compliance requirements have the county assessing how it handles confidential taxpayer data.

by John Kennett, Midland Daily News / November 22, 2017
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(TNS) –– Normally, when the Midland County Board of Commissioners hears the word "audit" their thoughts turn to the annual review of finances. But, at its last meeting the board was faced with an audit of a different kind -- cybersecurity.

"It's a new requirement that there be an IRS compliance audit to make sure that we are taking care of confidential taxpayer information," said Ken Randall, director for the Friend of the Court.

At its Tuesday meeting, the board unanimously agreed to contracts with the Midland County Friend of the Court and Prosecuting Attorney's departments, each with MGT of America Consulting. The total for both contracts is $1,850.

"Two-thirds of our budget is paid by the state," Randall said. "That money actually is federal money funneled through the state. That's why we need to answer to the IRS."

Every three years, the Friend of the Court and Prosecuting Attorney departments are required to undergo an IRS audit, which consists of two parts. The first one, which the board approved, is an equivalent and systems audit. That audit is required to be completed by the end of January 2018. Following the first audit, there will be a more detailed audit.

Should the Friend of the Court or Prosecuting Attorney departments get hacked, it could mean the release of confidential information from child support payments. That information includes birth dates, Social Security and telephone numbers, addresses, and other information.

"When Ingham County got hacked they were down for four days. They couldn't access anything," said county Financial Director Tori Meyer.

Government offices often take extra measures to ensure security.

"(Friend of the Court) can't share printers, each person that works for the Friend of the Court has to have their own printer and own scanner," she said.

©2017 the Midland Daily News (Midland, Mich.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.