The number of cyberattacks targeting state and local governments has grown exponentially in the past decade and there is a solid reason for it. The amount of data local governments must hold – much of it quite sensitive – has exploded year-over-year as more state and local agencies move their records and systems online. And to make matter worse, many of these local governments and agencies share data and systems with state and federal agencies.
This opens the door to even more attacks and data breaches. One coordinated attack in 2019 hit 22 small Texas municipalities. Fortunately, state cybersecurity officials were able to shut down the breach before the $2.5 million bitcoin ransom request was ever completed.
Before 2020, it could be reasonably assumed that many state, local, and municipal IT professionals did not quite understand the nature of the threat or the risk involved with the online behaviors and exchanges they were engaged in. In many cases, these very same local governments are forced to operate on a shoestring budget.
While cybersecurity is an incredibly important component of what they do, rarely are they able to devote the resources they need to hire dedicated, knowledgeable and professional cybersecurity experts. Yet it’s critical that local governments invest in high levels of security, simply because of the nature of the information they keep within their internal systems and the interconnectedness of local and federal bureaucracies.
One of the most common types of cyberattacks local governments face is ransomware attacks. Such incidents are a type of malicious attack that allows bad guys to gain access to files or systems and then block access to those files and systems when legitimate users try to access them. While this may seem like a relatively benign method of attack, it can do a lot of damage, from shutting down access to servers running critical infrastructure to exposing municipal data or even interfering with traffic management systems.
In the area of cybersecurity, it still appears that public entities are not doing enough to protect their internal systems and mitigate risks from a cyberattack. And when you consider that 67% of cyber attacks result from errors and not malicious activities, many breaches of this type can be easily prevented.
Effective network defense requires education and the elimination of human error wherever possible. There are many ways to accomplish this task, but one of the best is to partner with a company that has familiarity working with network security methods governments rely on. At CHIPS, we use military-grade technology to protect our clients’ networks. Want to learn more about how we do it? Sign up for one of our webinars today!