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The small-scale attacks on local infrastructure can have enormous consequences. The recent attack on the city of Atlanta serves as a cautionary tale. Hackers used a malware called SamSam to ask the city of Atlanta for a $50K ransom. Even though it’s not clear if the city paid, the hackers didn’t remedy the situation. The city had to recover on its own–to the tune of $2.6 million.
But cybercriminals are not the only concern for state and local infrastructure. Local government officials should also be aware of the effects of various policy changes. For example, the repeal of net neutrality has created new challenges. During the recent California wildfires, Verizon throttled the network bandwidth of the fire department, even though the department asked for an exemption. It created a communication crisis for first responders during the emergency, leaving lives and property at risk. As a result, the fire department has filed a case against Verizon.
For local governments, the solution to various infrastructure problems is preparation. Here are some steps to take:
Train Employees: Organizations think that cyber attacks are sophisticated. Yet, in many cases, hackers gain access to network infrastructure through social engineering. They use simple techniques like phishing emails and physical visits to local offices. Organizations should train their employees to recognize these scams to help prevent a large number of attacks.
Security and Recovery Plan: Sooner or later every organization will have to deal with a cyber attack. So state and municipal agencies should invest in high-quality solutions like firewalls and anti-malware. They should create backup and recovery plans to get systems up and running after an attack to minimize productivity loss. It’s also a good IT practice to run regular security drills to prepare for catastrophic situations.
Offsite Data Backups: Previously, only enterprise-level corporations with deep pockets could afford data centers for offsite backups, but cloud computing has made offsite data backups affordable for organizations of all sizes. Agencies should take advantage of this new resource. Many backup and recovery services utilize both local and remote storage to help minimize risk. In the age of ransomware, agencies skip backups at their own peril.
As a state or municipal government official, you have a heavy burden on your shoulders. You are responsible for the future security of this country. Untangle has helped a lot of small and large organizations secure their infrastructure. Learn about how NG Firewall has helped Lancaster County Government and the City of Bridgeton secure their infrastructures. For a live demo of Untangle, contact us today.