Puerto Rico gov’t seeks to unify computer system between agencies
SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rico government’s chief information officer, Luis Arocho, said Monday that the computer systems of the island’s 120 public agencies need to be unified to minimize the effect of cyberattacks, as well as to save in when it comes to maintaining these networks, which do not communicate with one another.
Arocho’s made his remarks during a public hearing held by local House of Representative’s Security Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Féliz Lasalle, regarding House Resolution 353 to investigate the security situation and how the use of new technology could help the government to protect its sensitive information.
The official assured that integrating the different systems into a single platform would provide the ability to offer services from a centralized system with one single security protocol, a federal government and private institution practice.
In response to Lasalle’s questions, the CIO said entities such as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Government Development Bank, the Environmental Quality Board and the Treasury Department have all been targeted by hackers. The latter’s breach resulted in a $20 million loss.
To implement security processes, an agreement was reached with some of the agencies in order to establish greater controls as a result of the hack. He added that many of the agencies already have contracts with companies specializing in cybersecurity services.
The Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service, headed by Arocho, is working with Homeland Security to analyze the processes needed to unify the security systems. The costs are estimated at $10 million to $15 million, which will be federally funded.
Estrella Mar Vega, legal adviser to the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, said that for the Public Safety Department the use of technology is crucial to safeguard the data shared between the agencies, as well as with federal and international authorities.
Justice Department attorney Miguel Soto Pastrana said the department had developed an entire system with tools to prevent cyberattacks since 2011.
Rep. Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras said it was necessary to discuss the issue in order to find mechanisms that ensure the safety of the government’s computer systems.
The committee chairman accepted the given recommendations to make government systems safer and foster an environment that contributes to the development of the island’s economy.