Computer systems for the state of Utah sometimes experience millions of hacking attempts a day thanks to attackers' efforts to breach a local National Security Agency data center.
"In 2010, my IT director was letting me know that the number of attacks we were averaging a day were between 25,000 to 80,000," Keith Squires, Utah Commissioner of Public Safety, told KUTV. "We had peaks in the past year or so that were over 300,000,000 a day."
State officials went on to explain that a majority of the attacks originated not from human actors conducting targeted attacks but from bots scanning the state's computer systems.
Any weaknesses that are discovered could subsequently be leveraged by attackers in an attempt to breach a NSA data center that has been constructed in Bluffdale, Utah.
The center, which cost taxpayers US $1.5 billion to build in May of 2014, has been officially designated the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center.
Other private and public installations, including a number of technology companies and the Hill Air Force Base's advanced weapon systems, would also make for lucrative hacking targets, Utah's information security director stated.
Neil Wyler, a former punk hacker who now works in information security, observed that it made sense for hackers to try to breach state systems in an attempt to gain a foothold in the NSA, the Air Force base, and others.
"Sure, because they know they're doing business with the state all the time," he said in an interview.
The state's systems are totally separate from those of the NSA local data center. However, hacking the state's computers would still grant hackers access to a significant amount of information dealing with Utah-based governance. This constitutes a real threat to the state government.
As a result, Utah's information security director is constantly working to protect the state's computer systems. These efforts include blocking traffic from a wide swath of IP addresses located in China, Indonesia, and Russia.
The state's information security center is also staffed 24/7 to ensure that it can respond in real-time to any threat, whether it be a bored teenager or a ring of sophisticated nation-state attackers.