State is upgrading computer security after hacking attempt

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ANCHORAGE - The state is working on a $7 million computer security upgrade after a hacker based in Brazil broke into Alaska's network in January.

Thousands of state computers are getting security software installed, said Kevin Brooks, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administration.

The upgrades include better security on routers and servers and setting up firewalls, according to Darrell Davis, the state's chief security officer.

An analysis after the attack revealed some of the servers and switches on the network were outdated, Brooks said.

State officials said they planned before the attack to ask the Legislature for money to upgrade the computer network. But the attack prompted them to speed it up. They drew up a proposal that would spend $41 million on upgrades over five years.

"It was kind of a wake-up call," Brooks said.

The Jan. 18 attack affected about 110 state computer servers and prompted an investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

State officials would not release the report from the investigation, citing the federal government's demand that it remain confidential.

The hackers were probing the state network for personal information, Brooks said. None was stolen, but the attack could have led to identity theft, he said.

Measures are now in place that should prevent similar attacks, he said.

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