California CIO Increases Security on State E-mail Systems

With the volume and potential impact of Internet threats consistently increasing, the state's e-mail systems must balance the need for strong security controls with the business requirements of state government.

by / August 11, 2008

An estimated 10 to 15 million e-mail messages are sent to California state agencies every day, 95 percent of which are spam or unsolicited e-mail. To combat this problem, State CIO Teri Takai is aggressively working with state information technology leaders to improve the security of California's e-mail systems. At her request, an "e-hub design" workshop was held in July for state agencies to modernize and collaborate on a statewide design solution focused on spam, virus protection and reducing the e-mail load on the state's networks.

"Although the state has done a sufficient job at protecting against spam and e-mail viruses, we need to be more effective with our resources and take strong measures to develop consistency and maximize security throughout all of our departments," said Takai. "The e-hub design workshop was an effective way to bring together department stakeholders and work on a design solution that will update our approach to better safeguard the state's e-mail systems."

The workshop included eight state agencies working on technical plans to secure and protect the state's inbound, outbound and inter-departmental e-mail systems by implementing Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) gateways.

Led by Dale Jablonsky, an expert in enterprise architecture and the agency information officer for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the workshop was held on July 22 through 24.

When implemented, the e-hub will:

  • Improve security and protection of the state's critical e-mail services;
  • Reduce network load as e-mail filtering is performed at the enterprise network border;
  • Implement consistent e-mail filtering services and technologies; and
  • Establish a central point of administration.

The California state government has a large, complex messaging environment with an estimated 200,000 total e-mail boxes. Approximately 150,000 of these e-mail boxes are within the Executive Branch. There are roughly 750,000 valid in-bound and out-bound e-mail messages and 300,000 inter-departmental e-mail messages sent and received each day.

The Workshop will reconvene in September for participants to finalize recommendations for a system design and complete a timeline for statewide implementation.

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