by ERIN GOLDEN on July 17, 2017

Minnesota state agencies fend off approximately 3 million cyberattacks daily, a constant barrage that explains why Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday joined 37 other U.S. governors in pledging to make cybersecurity a shared top priority.

At a meeting of the National Governors Association in Providence, R.I., Dayton signed on to “A Compact to Improve State Cybersecurity.” The 38 governors, including those from Iowa and Wisconsin, agreed to develop or build upon statewide plans to combat cyberattacks against IT networks, and to protect both personal and government data stored on state systems.

Dayton, a DFLer, has called for more state funding for cybersecurity initiatives. He said Minnesota needs to build on work it has already started.

“I am proud that Minnesota has been a leader in cybersecurity, but we must do more,” he said. “As these threats increase in volume and sophistication, we must invest in critical upgrades, technology and talent to keep Minnesotans safe and secure online.”

State officials have said that Minnesota government agencies fend off about 3 million attempts to steal data each day. While hacks against high-profile companies such as Target have gotten more attention, state government systems are also vulnerable, as they hold sensitive information including bank account details, Social Security numbers and addresses.

A few hacks into state systems have made headlines, including an April e-mail “spear phishing” attack that targeted the state Department of Education. In that case, a hacker sent e-mails impersonating Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and seeking financial data. The attempt was ultimately unsuccessful. In June 2016, an attack on the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website rendered it unusable for most of an entire day. An international hacker activist group known for attacks against government websites claimed responsibility.


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Erin Golden writes for the Minneapolis Gold Star Tribune.