State auditor warns government agencies in danger of hacking

CalWatchDog-State Auditor Elaine Howle, who issued a report last year warning of cybersecurity problems at dozens of state agencies, says the problems remain mostly unaddressed.

Testifying at a recent hearing of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection and Select Committee on Cybersecurity, Howle said 73 of the 77 agencies she reviewed had inadequate or worse safeguards against hacking. Her three biggest concerns: the state’s court system, the Board of Equalization and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Howle’s remarks were countered by a representative of the Brown administration. The state Department of Technology’s chief information security officer, Michele Robinson, said Howle had exaggerated the state’s problems.

But lawmakers didn’t appear to accept Robinson’s defense of the state’s efforts. Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, told Sacramento TV station KCRA after the hearing that she considered Howle’s warnings “very disturbing. …  We have 160 departments that are holding your private information. So Social Security numbers, addresses, medical information — yes, there is a risk for the typical Californian.”

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