IT unification protects state data from attack
OKLAHOMA CITY — As a ransomware cyberattack created worldwide chaos, State
of Oklahoma agencies with their information technology unified under the IT umbrella
managed by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services were protected and reported
no disruptions in service.
Unification allows agencies to have the updated resources of
Oklahoma CyberCommand that quickly detect and respond to ransomware attacks.
“CyberCommand has a specific set of technical and response
capabilities to identify and respond to cyberattacks,” said Oklahoma
CyberCommand Director Mark Gower. “During the latest global incident, we had zero
reports of encryptions and no indicators of a compromised system due to this ransomware.”
Nonunified agencies are responsible for their own
cybersecurity and typically don’t have immediate access to the updated
resources available through Oklahoma CyberCommand and can therefore be more
“The focus of OMES to protect unified agencies against a
cyberattack that brought down other systems worldwide, proves the value of IT
consolidation,” said Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information
Technology Preston L. Doerflinger, who is the director of OMES. “As this
incident shows, misguided efforts to resist unification could lock up vital
systems in a time of need or even allow the private information of Oklahomans to
fall into the wrong hands.”
Ransomware is malware that installs itself on a device and holds
data hostage until a ransom is paid. In 2016, CyberCommand successfully
responded to about 32,000 cases of unique malware, about 750 instances of
malicious activity, nearly 400 occasions of unauthorized access and two
denial-of-service attacks. The state's ongoing information technology
unification efforts and the OMES Security Operations Center can identify and quickly
respond 24/7 to cyberattacks.
Starting Friday with the first reports of the ransomware
attack known as Wannacry, OMES activated technical teams to make sure state
systems were not vulnerable and to mitigate related risks to the state’s technology
infrastructure. OMES technicians’ initial focus on the systems and workstations
of unified agencies transitioned to include outreach to nonunified agencies and
affiliates over the weekend.
“As with past threats, this current threat and any future
threat, we will always take the time to validate we have the right IT and
security posture to protect the state,” Gower said. “We took the weekend to
review security of systems and make any adjustments we felt necessary to help
guard against threats.”
The latest ransomware attack targeted current and outdated Microsoft
Operating Systems for both workstations and servers, such as Windows XP. Prior to the attack, OMES had removed Windows
XP, as it went out of support in 2014, and upgraded computer systems for
unified agencies. Still, technicians scanned networks, applied systems patches,
updated anti-virus capabilities and made changes to networks and email systems
to further protect state data.
“We wanted to make sure we were protected,” Gower said. “If
you heard that burglars were in your neighborhood, you would certainly want to
go and check that the windows and doors were locked.”
This is the second time in recent weeks that unplanned
incidents have shown the value of unifying IT with OMES. When strong storms knocked
out power at the Capitol during last weekend of April, the data of unified
agencies remained secure and accessible at the OMES Data Center, where generators
kicked into gear almost immediately and kept the state’s data online.
“Having Oklahoma CyberCommand and other protections and
redundancies in place is an important part of IT unification,” said Oklahoma
Chief Information Officer Bo Reese. “Simply put, the State of Oklahoma is stronger
with a unified IT infrastructure.”
Unification, legislatively mandated by HB 1304
in 2011, partners agencies with OMES to streamline and consolidate IT efforts.
By the end of fiscal year 2017, 78 mandated agencies, and more than 30
voluntary (nonappropriated) state agencies, will have been brought under one IT
umbrella at an estimated reduced spending and projected savings of about $130
million. The increased purchasing power of unification saved the state another
$46 million in FY 16 in IT contracts.
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About the Office of Management and Enterprise Services
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services
provides financial, property, purchasing, human resources and
information technology services to all state agencies, and assists the
Governor’s Office on budgetary policy matters. Our mission: Supporting our partners through unified business services. For more information, visit OMES.OK.gov.