State chief information officer: As computer use grows, so do the threats

Mar 30, 2018

State Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley speaks to elected and appointed department heads (3/28/18).
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s chief information officer says as the state becomes more computerized, the threats of computer hacking grow along with it.

"Lots of people say, 'North Dakota -- we're small, and nobody's coming after us," CIO Shawn Riley said at a meeting of elected and appointed state department heads. "On average, we defend 7.3 million attacks a month. They're comin' after us."

Riley said bad actors are looking at the state both for its energy and its network.

"We've got a network of 252,000 people on it," riley said, referencing the state Internet network. "That's as big as a Fortune 30 company."

And Riley said they're looking at other opportunities -- such as the research at the colleges and universities.

"Whether it be drone systems, automated systems, those type of products," Riley said. "They're very interesting to the bad actors."

Riley said his department is rolling out new cyber security protection for state agencies. And he said IT is now making a “threat assessment” of state systems.

"We have a responsibility to insure the data of the citizens of North Dakota is safe and secure," Riley said.