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Madison County wants to pay $40,000 so someone can hack their computers

Nervous about hackers? Here’s what to do after a data breach

Did you get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach to learn what you can do to protect your identity.
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Did you get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach to learn what you can do to protect your identity.

With their collections of personal data such as social security numbers and voter information, county governments can be just as appealing to hackers as private businesses.

That’s why Madison County’s Information Technology department has asked County Board members to approve $39,990 for an authorized hack of the county’s systems.

The intentional hack is known as a “penetration test,” and it tests the security of the county’s information systems to reveal any potential weaknesses.

Cybersecurity made its way into the limelight in recent years after data breaches at several high-profile companies and government bodies, including the Illinois State Board of Elections, electronics company Sony and credit reporting agency Equifax, to name a few. Russian interference in United States elections has also raised public awareness about cybersecurity since 2016.

“Part of a solid data security is understanding your weaknesses,” Madison County IT Director Rob Dorman said. “We want to make sure they (taxpayers) don’t have to worry about their data being stolen by a hostile actor.”

Connecticut-based JANUS Associates will perform the test. Board members will consider a contract with the company at Wednesday’s County Board meeting.

Madison County has not had an independent test done previously, Dorman said, leaving the IT department in the dark as far as what information is at risk.

The test hasn’t been scheduled yet, Dorman said, but a date will be set if Board members approve funding.

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