OTHER VIEWS: A cyber-hacking apology? That’s a sorry idea

  • Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013 2:24 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, January 20, 2013 6:59 a.m.

FLORENCE — Would a formal apology from the State of South Carolina do much solve the state’s cyber-hacking mess?

Probably not. But Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, has proposed the state make one all the same.

As S.C. Legislature went into session again last week, Sheheen introduced a resolution that would, in fact, have the state saying “I’m sorry” to citizens of South Carolina. By extension, the resolution would be tantamount to Gov. Nikki Haley apologizing. She’s not the state per se, but if any one person can stand in for the state, it’s the governor. Besides, it’s Haley who’s taken much of the blame for the cyber-hacking since it occurred on her watch in a government department (the South Carolina Department of Revenue) she is charged with overseeing.

Now, we weren’t born yesterday, nor in the turnip patch, so we’re not fooled by this. Sheheen, who lost a narrow race to Haley in the 2010 governor’s race and is almost surely pondering a rematch next year, doesn’t really think the apology will do much good – unless you define good as wounding Haley politically. In case you do believe that, well, then the apology would work just fine.

Yep, that’s right. It’s just one of them po-litical ploys.

Haley and company spared no words in mocking the Sheheen statement. Gubernatorial spokesman Rob Godfrey called the resolution “a political stunt, one we have no problem with as long as the apology covers the decade-plus Vince was in the South Carolina Legislature and never once mentioned cyber-security.”

That sounds about right to us, but at the same time, we wouldn’t mind hearing a more remorseful tone coming out of Columbia.

And, we wouldn’t mind having a few cyber-hacking answers.

Months after the cyber-hacking, which affected some 3.8 million S.C. tax records, exposing their owners to possible identity theft, was revealed, it’s still not clear just what happened.

Senators other than Sheheen made that very point while discussing – briefly – Sheheen’s bill last week. Everyone understands what happened in general – security was lax at SCDOR, an employee blundered and left a cyber security “door” open somewhere in the system. According to some published reports, an SCDOR employee may have left a real door open, or, more to the point, may have inadvertently left his security credentials in the open, where an outsider could get a hold of them.

So a real explanation should be forthcoming. As part of that explanation, Haley needs to cut down on the snappy, defensive rhetoric that has characterized much of her response to this matter and say what happened.

More information is also needed on what’s going to happen: When will citizens be informed as to whether their info was, or was not, hacked? Months after the cyber-hacking revelation, that still hasn’t happened either.

Finally, there’s precious little assurance, so far, that this problem has really been fixed. The lax view of cyber-security, in the SCDOR and elsewhere, suggest it wasn’t considered much of a priority before the hacking that put millions of records at risk. Has it become one now? The public ought to know.

No apology is needed for us asking.

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