SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico seems to face more and more cybersecurity attacks, New Mexico is working to protect state agencies and their data. But to do so, the leading agency says they need more workers and more compliance from state agencies.

Raja Sambandam, the acting secretary and state chief information security officer for the Department of Information Technology, laid out the challenges to lawmakers in a Science, Technology and Telecommunications meeting in October. Sambandam says a key aspect is getting staff.

“We are asking for FTEs [full-time employees],” Sambandam told lawmakers. “If we go back in time about three years ago or maybe four years ago . . . about 37 positions were taken away from the department.”

Some of those positions went to the state’s broadband office, but Sambandam says he needs more staff to make sure the state doesn’t suffer from cyberattacks. He’s asking for six more employees for the cybersecurity office in particular.

Sambandam also says more state agencies need to get on board with the statewide effort to increase cyber protection. Without them doing so, the entire state is vulnerable, Sambandam says.

“We have to operate and coexist within an interconnected world,” Sambandam said. “Bad guys do not differentiate which branch of government you are working for. They will take the easiest and the weakest link and pound it and find a way to get elsewhere [in the network].”

New Mexico has already gotten 72 state agencies onboard for the Enterprise Vulnerability Management Program. That leaves four agencies that still need to join.

In the meeting, lawmakers discussed ways to make sure agencies join in and get protected. They plan on drafting a letter to agency heads asking them to comply. The state’s Department of Information Technology and Office of Cybersecurity will likely ask lawmakers for an increased budget in the upcoming lawmaking session.