Gwinnett County, Ga., OKs $456K Contract to Encrypt Its Data

The county must encrypt its data under federal, state and local regulations. Gwinnett’s new contract adds “additional risk mitigation strategies” across the county’s network and systems, according to officials.

by Amanda C. Coyne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / August 23, 2019
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(TNS) — Thousands of attempted cyberattacks against Gwinnett County’s computer networks are blocked every day, and more than 100 e-mail malware attacks are stopped weekly under the government’s existing system, county officials say.

While the hackers have not succeeded in breaking into the county’s data, another layer of security is being added through a $456,483 contract to boost data encryption, approved at the county board of commissioners’ Tuesday meeting.

The encryption covers all of the county’s “sensitive” data, according to spokesman Joe Sorenson. The county would not specify what that data entails for security reasons.

Recent hacks of the city of Atlanta and the Lawrenceville Police Department have presented governments like Gwinnett County with examples of what could happen if they let their guards down. Lawrenceville police lost access to video records and its email system was temporarily unusable after a July hack, which the FBI is still investigating. Operations in the city of Atlanta, from courts to utility payments, were paralyzed by a March 2018 hack. Two suspects have been indicted in connection with that hack.

The county government must encrypt its data under federal, state and local regulations. Gwinnett’s new contract adds “additional risk mitigation strategies” across the county’s network and systems, spokesman Sorenson said. The effort is not tied to the hacks, but part of an expanded cyberprotection plan that has been in the works for years, Sorenson said.

The nearly half-million dollar contract was awarded to Dell Marketing L.P. on Tuesday.

“By implementing data encryption we will be able to add another element to protect our valuable data,” Sorenson said. “This extra layer protects our organization’s sensitive system data so that only authorized parties can view it.”

The county’s $4.6 million 2019 budget for information security covers products, services and salaries, and includes the new encryption contract. A six-person team is responsible for protecting the county’s network.

©2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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