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Senate OKs measure creating state Office of Cybersecurity

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 24, 2021

Associated Press

Associated Press

OLYMPIA – In response to a security breach that exposed personal information from around 1.6 million unemployment claims filed last year, the Washington Senate has unanimously passed a measure that creates a state Office of Cybersecurity.

The measure, passed by the chamber on Wednesday, creates the new office within the Office of the Chief Information Officer. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

If passed by the full Legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, the office would set security policies and develop centralized protocols for managing the state’s information technology assets.

Earlier this month, the state auditor’s office said the breach involved third-party software used by the auditor’s office to transmit files. The software vendor, Accellion, announced last month that it had been attacked in December.

The measure would direct all state entities – institutions of higher education, the Legislature, the judiciary, and state agencies – to adopt programs that incorporate cybersecurity standards set by the office and to report any major cybersecurity incident within 24 hours.

The new office would be the point of contact for all policy related to data privacy and protection, and would be charged with investigating all major cybersecurity incidents.

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