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New SC Budget Includes Beefed-Up Computer Security

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After a hacker stole the personal information of millions of South Carolina taxpayers last fall, state lawmakers are beefing up computer security in the new state budget that takes effect July 11st.

The budget includes $10 million for computer security improvements and an additional year of ID theft protection and ID theft resolution services.

It also includes $10.6 million to create a new Division of Information Security. The state will hire 24 new employees whose only job will be computer security.

Jimmy Earley, director of the Division of State Information Technology, says, "We'll use money to create a standard way for agencies to classify and categorize their data, so we can apply really a risk-based approach on how to apply the appropriate security measures, so that our dollars are going to secure the most sensitive data first."

He says as early as next week the state will start the process of filling those new positions.

The budget also includes $230,000 to create a new Identity Theft Unit at the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

Lawmakers also created in the budget a new Taxpayer Protection Fund. Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, pushed for its creation.

"So that if an individual actually had their information stolen, which we know over 3.7 million taxpayers did,  and then has their bank account raided or their credit card raided so that they suffer a financial loss, they can apply to the state treasurer for reimbursement. That's the right thing to do. It was the state's fault. It was the Department of Revenue's fault that this occurred and they ought to be willing to compensate victims," he says.

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