State's Cybersecurity Experts Work Overtime After WannaCry Virus

May 15, 2017 06:26 PM

It's especially busy this week in the state's security operations center in St. Paul.

That's where a team of cybersecurity experts is tasked with protecting valuable personal information from hackers.


As a result of the largest-coordinated cyberattack ever, a malware virus known as WannaCry, extra staff has been brought in and they are working longer hours.

"It's of the utmost concern that we remain diligent and keep our defenses up," said Aaron Call, Minnesota's director of information security.

A type of ransomware, the virus infects your computer and demands money to unlock critical files.

It's proven to be a very big deal. Hospitals were attacked in the United Kingdom, creating a national health emergency.

"Disrupting these services means that other types of businesses - particularly life safety businesses and functions - might become unavailable to citizens," Call said.

Officials said they aren't aware of any successful attacks in Minnesota. But they remain very concerned as they look toward the future.

"We're seeing more and more attacks just like the one we had last week," chief information security officer Christopher Buse said.

Buse added the state's security operations center is not staffed around the clock - potentially leaving Minnesotans vulnerable to similar attacks.

"Our adversaries are certainly attacking us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and we also have to have that kind of operation in place to deal with those kinds of attacks," Buse said.

The state's information technology leaders have requested additional funding from the legislature to pay for extra staff, as well as private-sector cybersecurity tools they say will better protect Minnesotans.

It remains to be seen whether they actually get that money. It's one of many budget requests currently being debated at the Capitol.


Josh Rosenthal

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