COLUMBIA — South Carolina lawmakers voted Wednesday to pursue a multi-year contract for credit services that provide taxpayers with better protection from identity theft after last fall’s massive hacking of personal data from Department of Revenue computer servers.
Lawmakers hope a competitive bidding process attracts services beyond those offered in the one-year, $12 million Experian contract that Gov. Nikki Haley negotiated last October after learning of the theft.
It was later determined that the thief took unencrypted Social Security and bank account numbers of 6.4 million residents and businesses.
In a related matter, consultants with Deloitte & Touche told the Budget and Control Board that creating a statewide cybersecurity approach in an effort to prevent another such attack will cost an estimated $15 million next fiscal year.
The amount is in line with legislators’ budget plans for 2013-14. The House plan set aside $25 million to cover both additional consumer protections like what Experian has been providing — which some have estimated at $10 million — and fixing the state’s decentralized computer security system.
The Senate plan up for debate on that chamber’s floor next week also sets aside $25 million for the effort, though it designates the money according to its cybersecurity plan.
The state’s decentralized approach to computer security, as well as inconsistent training for employees, makes it difficult for agencies to guard sensitive data, said Mike Wyatt, director of security and privacy for Deloitte & Touche, which was awarded a $3 million, three-year contract in March to evaluate agencies’ systems and make suggestions with cost estimates. “There’s really no linkage between security operations in place today,” Wyatt said.
His comments, as well as the company’s recommendations, closely follow those made by state Inspector General Patrick Maley last December, which the Senate used to help craft the bill it passed last month. White said the House will take up that bill soon. The regular session ends in a month.