Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cyber Security Audit Raises Its Own Security Issues as Zoo Museum District Makes Push

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cyber Security Audit Raises Its Own Security Issues as Zoo Museum District Makes Push

Article excerpt

A cybersecurity audit of five major St. Louis cultural institutions announced last year is facing delays due to, well, security concerns.

The board of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District approved moving forward with the plan in August 2016. It would test the vulnerability of each member institution the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Science Center to cyberattacks by would-be hackers.

Private and public institutions globally are increasingly focused on the threat of cyberattacks, but testing their defenses presents its own security issues. Missouri Botanical Garden spokeswoman Katie O'Sullivan said information about deficiencies in an institution's security systems "is highly confidential and could subject the Garden to hacking of our systems if generally distributed."

The audit would evaluate the institutions' information technology systems, the software already in place and current safety policies. But doing so would require a consultant to access information and systems that the institutions say could make them vulnerable if not handled properly.

"We're happy to help and support this idea, but these are complex organizations," St. Louis Science Center President and CEO Bert Vescolani said. "We just want to make sure we're protecting everyone's privacy in the appropriate way and doing all due diligence to get everything done that needs to get done."

That includes protecting information on donors that the institutions wouldn't want leaked, as well as information on the strengths and vulnerabilities of each of their cybersecurity systems. These and other issues have led to roughly a year of talks with consultant BDO USA, the five institutions and the ZMD Board, which divides $70 million in St. Louis city and county property tax money among the five institutions annually.

A final contract hasn't been hammered out, but Zoo Museum District board chairman Thomas Campbell said it could be done before the end of December. On-site visits by the consultant would be made in the first months of 2018 and reports might be finished by midyear, Campbell said. …

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