With funding shortages and cyberthreats looming, Executive Office of Technology Services and Security Secretary Curt Wood urged commonwealth lawmakers to continue investment in cyberprotections.
(TNS) — Every single day, the state's computer network is "probed" more than half a billion times by entities outside the United States looking for a weak spot in the state's cyberprotections that could allow bad actors to infiltrate the state's information technology infrastructure.
The Executive Office of Technology Services and Security and others maintain defenses against those probes, but some of those programs are expected to run out of funding in January when the Legislature's last IT bond bill runs dry, EOTSS Secretary Curt Wood told lawmakers Thursday.
"We have major initiatives ongoing right now, if the money expires in January, which we anticipate, we will be stopped without any traction," he said. "So the urgency from a funding perspective is critical."
Wood, Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan and Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco on Thursday pressed the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets to advance a $1.15 billion bill authorizing funds for information technology, public safety equipment and cybersecurity projects.
"Every day, we have attacks. Just to give you a frame of reference, we have implemented new technology in the state where we are kind of able to analyze everything that comes into the state network, and I will say as of today on a daily basis we receive about 525 million probes a day from foreign soil," Wood told the committee. "They're pinging our network, they're scanning our commonwealth network trying to find a vulnerability."
Gov. Charlie Baker filed an IT bond bill in April and in August the Committee on State Administration advanced it to the House Bonding Committee. Rep. David Vieira, the top Republican on the Bonding Committee, underscored for his colleagues the importance of the Legislature passing the IT bond bill before leaving Beacon Hill for their next recess, which runs from Thanksgiving through the holiday season.
"I just want to underscore the urgency of time. With 525 million foreign pings a day, if we leave here [November] 20 and don't come back into session sometime until mid-January and try to move this bill through, we're going to be hundreds of millions of pings behind," he said. "It's very important that we move this bill as quickly as possible."
The borrowing bill (H 4039) would authorize $600 million in spending on information technology infrastructure that the administration said would "help fortify the Commonwealth's defenses and against cyberattacks" and improve residents' ability to interact digitally with government, including for health care, housing and other services. Among the projects to be funded is a new $135 million "Security Operations Center."
"I would like to stress the importance of this bill to the commonwealth's infrastructure," Heffernan said. "The authorizations in this bill will not only help bolster the commonwealth's cybersecurity and the public safety, but they also help the public better understand the work that our administration, with the support of the Legislature, is doing to bring more efficient services to our employees and the public."
Baker has pushed information technology to the forefront of state government in recent years by creating the new Cabinet-level Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, led by Wood, and pushing for the creation of the MassCyberCenter last year to bolster the state's cybersecurity readiness and to promote the cybersecurity economy.
The bill also authorizes $82.5 million for the state police to upgrade and replace cruisers, $10 million for a new fire training facility in Bridgewater for departments in the southeastern region of the state, $100 million for library construction grants and $5 million for schools to upgrade their internet and wifi systems.
Turco said the state police has a fleet of 3,400 marked and unmarked vehicles, more than 100 of which are currently out of service due to body damage or major mechanical failures. He said an additional 400 vehicles will soon be evaluated by the department for decommissioning and auction. Almost half the state police cruisers in use today (45%) have odometer readings above 90,000 miles, Turco said.
©2019 Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.