MINNEAPOLIS — The first-ever statewide cybersecurity plan will be rolled out Tuesday across Minnesota, comprised of nearly $24 million in both state and federal tax dollars.
There is so much connectivity in an online world, but so little communication, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) wants to change that.
The new cybersecurity plan aims to solidify online defenses at more than 3,000 government entities.
“You have to continue to invest in cyber defenses because the threats continue to evolve,” said MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes.
The whole-of-state plan is both an end and beginning — a year’s worth of work from the new cybersecurity task force, and the first step is gauging where each town, city, tribe, police, fire, health, and school district stands in terms of staff and resources.
State officials reported more than 1,000 security incidents last year, hitting schools, universities, and government offices.
What’s critical in the new plan is that it addresses more than just stopping cyberattacks. It also lays out how to respond to them.
“The gaps that this plan is filling is providing tools that would have prevented events that we’ve seen throughout the state,” said MNIT Chief Information Security Officer John Israel. “So whether that’s ransomware that gets into a network, and that spreads from one device to another, or vulnerabilities that are not patched and managed that are then exploited.”
Ransomware, in particular, has left some school districts doing major damage control. Atop that list is Minneapolis Public Schools, which took weeks to get a grip on the situation. Officials hope this plan makes sure that doesn’t happen again.
“Could’ve sped up things, could’ve given other districts tools to learn like what are the outcomes of what happened and how do we move forward as a whole state and all education and all districts,” said Nicole Prudin with MNIT’s Cybersecurity Task Force.
Officials anticipate a four-year timeline for statewide synergy, including distributing the millions of dollars in grants.
The state will release the full plan on Tuesday.