Clinton County, N.Y., IT Gets Cybersecurity Grant Funding

Clinton County has earned grant funding to help improve its cybersecurity posture for the second year in a row, accepting $36,960 to upgrade the county's back-up software and provide additional training to IT staff.

by Cara Chapman, Press-Republican / October 15, 2019
Shutterstock/Michael Traitov

(TNS) — Clinton County, N.Y., has earned grant funding to help improve its cyber security posture for the second year in a row.

At its meeting Wednesday, the County Legislature Economic Development and Government Operations Committee approved a resolution authorizing the Information Technology Department to accept $36,960 to upgrade the county's back-up software and provide additional training to IT staff.

The program is provided by the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services using funds provided by the federal government in response to the 2016 election, County Director of IT David Randall told committee members.

The full legislature passed the resolution during its regular meeting later that night.

Backup Software

Last year's funding through the program took care of a good number of efficiencies, Randall said.

This year, the department put together a grant proposal targeting its backup software, which does not necessarily provide replication off-site.

The county currently has a backup appliance at the Government Center which performs nightly backups.

"What we’re specifically looking to do with the new backup software is do a full replication from the Government Center over to (the Office of) Emergency Services," Randall said.

That way, if the county was for any reason unable to bring up a server at the Government Center for some reason, IT could eventually spin it up and have its data at OES.

Then, the rest of the county could connect to that server.

The committee's acting chairman, Chris Rosenquest (D-Area 9) asked Randall how long it would take to bring up its servers at OES.

Randall said the replication should happen about every 10 to 15 minutes and that they could bring up the server in OES within an hour.

PrimeLink Contract

The committee also approved a resolution awarding a request for proposals for wide area network (WAN) and dedicated internet access to PrimeLink Inc. in the amount of $6,531.21 per month for five years, plus $900 monthly to cover taxes, surcharges and usage fees.

PrimeLink — whose current contract with the county expires Dec. 31 — was one of five vendors to submit proposals in August, and came in with the lowest bid for both WAN and internet services at $7,476.90 per month for three years.

After the bids were opened, the county went back to PrimeLink to negotiate and reduce the cost.

The price is slightly higher than the previous contract, Randall said, primarily because of the increase in cost of connections between buildings brought by two additional security-related requirements the county requested.

"One was that the traffic would be more independent of PrimeLink’s own internal network than it is currently," he explained.

"In this case, they're going to be basically functionally providing dedicated hardware to their building for our internal network connections."

The county also wanted to be able to break up its network into specific segments.

"If my computer got a ransomware virus, it wasn’t necessarily going to affect the computer out in Mental Health, for instance," Randall said.

The county has it built into the contract that a separate internet line will kick in should PrimeLink have an outage.

"They sub-contract that out to Westelcom so we do have a fully redundant internet connection for this building and for the county, too."

WiFi Possible

Rosenquest asked if there were opportunities to provide free Wi-Fi in all of the county buildings, naming specifically the Government Center and Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services.

"It is absolutely doable," Randall said. "We are currently looking at hopefully replacing the majority of our access points throughout the county by the end of 2020."

On that new system, the IT department should be able to set up wireless access for guest users, he added.

"There’s two concerns: one would be bandwidth, ... two is what level of filtering we want to make sure that we apply to those connections."

©2019 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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