Without Cybersecurity, Illinois is in danger

By Rep. Keith Wheeler
State Representative, 50th District


This week, the Governor and the Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) announced a comprehensive state cybersecurity strategy for Illinois. As a small businessman myself, owner of an IT services company for over 25 years, I understand the growing challenges in this field and what it will take for the State to meet them.

One recent cyber data breach illustrates how real this threat is to Illinois residents. Last August, Illinois State Board of Elections officials revealed that personal information from fewer than 200,000 voters was hacked through a cyberattack of possible foreign origin. It is possible that some voter personal information, including drivers' license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers, could have been accessed of voters who entered that information when they registered to vote online.

The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, an increase over the $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. Clearly, the State of Illinois must act in the face of this growing threat.

The Governor’s strategy outlines five strategic goals with specific action plans to protect state operations and the personal information of Illinois residents. The goals include 1) protecting state of Illinois information and systems, 2) reducing cyber risk, 3) best-in-class cybersecurity capabilities, 4) an enterprise approach to cybersecurity and 5) a cyber secure Illinois.

These goals are being threatened by Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who is putting politics ahead of people by arbitrarily refusing to disburse funds for the implementation of Illinois’ cyber security upgrades. This is a dangerous and reckless policy. Democrat or Republican, we are all at risk of cyberattacks. For the sake of the families we represent, it is time to set politics aside and make the security of their personal information our priority.

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