News Column

SC Legislative Panel to Probe Hacking

Dec. 7, 2012

House lawmakers have set up a panel to investigate ways to increase South Carolina's cyber security after the hacking of millions of taxpayers' personal data.

"People only have one choice when it comes to where they can file their state income taxes. For that reason alone, we should be holding our agencies to a higher standard when protecting our public's trust," House Minority Leader Harry Ott, D-St. Matthews, said in a release. He is vice chairman of the panel.

"With this failure, we've let an entire state down. This trust must be earned back and it's up to this Investigative Committee to start us down the right path," he said.

In October, Gov. Nikki Haley announced that Department of Revenue computer servers had been hacked. The breach exposed the personal data of nearly 4 million individual filers and 700,000 businesses.

The tab for her administration's response to the theft is nearly $20 million so far.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said Thursday he had appointed 10 Republicans and Democrats to the investigative committee. Harrell says the panel will take testimony, give legislators a full report on what went wrong and make recommendations for how to better safeguard information.

"We greatly appreciate Gov. Haley's swift action directing her cabinet agencies to work with federal authorities in addressing the immediate fallout of this security breach, but an independent outside investigation is needed to answer many of the questions moving forward," Harrell said.

Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, is also on the panel.

State senators have already held several meetings of their own panel. On Wednesday, the chief of the state's information technology division told senators that responsibility for monitoring agency cybersecurity should be centralized.

Source: (c)2012 The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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