Cyberbreaches are Growing in Municipal Settings
Cybersecurity is not just crucial for businesses and personal computers. The importance of cybersecurity for municipalities is continually increasing. Local governments are a substantial target, as many towns are not prepared for cyberattacks. Municipality ransomware attacks were up 60% just last year and are only expected to rise. These cyberattacks cause significant downtime of the system and can prevent the community services. It is essential for towns and municipalities to protect their data and their community from a cyberattack.
Atlanta, Georgia 2018
In March of 2018, the city of Atlanta, Georgia fell victim to a catastrophic cyberattack. This breach of the city’s computer systems caused some departments to be shutdown for a full 5 days. The City of Atlanta paid over $2.8 million in recovery efforts including emergency contracts to restore the computer network and lawyer fees.
New Bedford, Massachusetts and Lake City, Florida 2019
New Bedford, Massachusetts’s city computer system was breached by a ransomware attack in July 2019 where the hacker was asking for a whopping $5 million ransom to release the data back to the city. As only a small portion of the city’s computers were actually affected, New Bedford’s mayor decided to negotiate and offer the hacker $400,000 – which was covered under New Bedford’s insurance so that no extra taxpayer dollars would be used. The hacker accepted and New Bedford recovered and strengthened their cybersecurity.
The same cannot be said for Lake City, Florida that has a population of only 12,000 and fell victim to a ransomware attack around the same time as New Bedford. Lake City’s backup servers were affected by the ransomware attack that breached the city’s computer system in June 2019. City officials paid a $485,000 ransom and the attack ended up costing the town over $500,00 total – using 10% of taxpayer dollars.
Florence, Alabama 2020
The ransomware gang, DoppelPaymer, launched an attack of the town of Florence, Alabama in June 2020. The attack shut down Florence’s city email system and the ransom to recover it was $378,000. Florence negotiated the ransom down to about $300,000. The mayor believes that the breach was via a phishing attack.
Don’t Let Your Town Fall Victim to a Cyberattack
As cybercriminals become more aware of municipalities that are unsuspecting and unprepared for a cyberattack, the more those municipalities will be targeted. Protect your town and its citizens from a cyberbreach with a few simple steps that will save not only your city’s important data, but also taxpayer dollars.
- Educate your staff to prevent an unsuspecting employee from clicking a phishing email that can breach your entire system.
- Update – make sure your software systems are up-to-date to prevent a breach through a weakness in an old operating system.
- Back-Up – have a separate location or server to back up your data so that you can easily recover it in the event of a breach.
- Appoint a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – have a professional officer on your staff in charge of monitoring and protecting your data.