Securing Mississippi Computers

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The grant from the Office for Domestic Preparedness is for $820,000 total. That's $10,000 per county. The goal is to strengthen cyber security at the local level.

State auditor Phil Bryant explained the program.

"We're going in every county. We're going to see where we're at as far as information technology, computer equipment that they're utilizing for public service and for public protection," Bryant said.

Bryant said checking equipment is part of the plan, but the people involved are another part.

"We're going to determine if it's safe and effective equipment, how it's being utilized and determine what they really need for the future to be able to communicate with each other. Now we only have 45 sheriffs in the state of Mississippi that have e-mail, that have websites that we can communicate with," said the auditor.

Bryant said what is needed is a statewide grid in order to get information simultaneously to all of the sheriff's departments.

Director of data processing, Kim Poe, said Lauderdale County's computers are very secure. He said they have building security, computer room security, menu security and more.

"A password, a user and password security and security only in the area that people have work. We have access to the internet and the outside world is protected by routers and fire walls, meaning only authorized people can access that," Poe said. "We're constantly reevaluating and reviewing the security to make sure we have it at the highest level."

Computers used by sheriffs, supervisors and other county offices will all be examined under this program.