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Mayors taking steps to alleviate cyber attacks

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In 2012, the South Carolina Department of Revenue was breeched allowing for 3.6 million social security numbers to become exposed along with almost 400,000 credit and debit card numbers.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (left) and Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall each spoke about cybersecurity during a Power Breakfast hosted by the Columbia Regional Business Report held this morning at the Doubletree by Hilton. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)In the coming years, cybersecurity has been a major issue not only at the state level, but in the local government levels as well. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall addressed the issue during the Columbia Regional Business Report Power Breakfast held this morning at the Doubletree by Hilton in Columbia.

“We hosted the cybersecurity summit in 2011, with the help of the federal government and IT-oLogy, but it’s only gotten worse,” Benjamin said. “It will continue as long as there is opportunities for people to steal identities and steal wealth.”

Benjamin said he’s not sure there is an answer, but the key is continued vigilance.

“We’ve built in controls at the city to protect taxpayers and rate payers,” Benjamin said. “It continues to be part of the national and international debate.”

Just this week, Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order establishing the South Carolina Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Executive Oversight Group. The group will examine, enforce and strengthen the state’s cybersecurity efforts.

In a statement, McMaster said he hopes the group will “prevent cyber threats, incidents, or attacks affecting the state’s critical infrastructure and key resources.”

MacDougall said cybersecurity was a huge blip on Lexington’s radar.

“We are a water and sewer provider that owns a small town,” MacDougall said at the breakfast. “We have great interest because of what we provide. If something were to happen to that process it would affect a lot of people.”

Lexington controls almost 500 miles of sewer line, and any potential harm would create quite a bit of havoc, MacDougall said.

“We’ve made upgrades to our local e-mails while maintaining private addresses and credit card information that we collect on a daily basis.”

Despite the continued attacks, Benjamin pointed out Columbia is much better equipped to handle cybersecurity thanks to the improvements of resources being developed by local companies along with University of South Carolina and Benedict College.

Reach Travis Boland at 803-726-7543.

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