Why Local Governments Are Being Targeted by Cyber Attacks
And What You Can Do About It
It seems every week there’s a new headline about cyber security breach. From high profile attacks such as the 2020 US federal data breach associated with the Solar Winds vulnerabilities, to the hacking of the State of Alaska’s Online Voter Registration. While big government organizations are making the news, we know that cyber security is an ongoing challenge for government organizations big and small.
Barracuda Networks found that over 44% of ransomware cyber security attacks in 2020 were aimed at local governments. Even more concerning is that 15% of those local governments ended up paying their attacker’s ransom to gain back access to critical data. Why are local governments being attacked so frequently? And what can you do about it?
Local government fills a niche that cyber attackers love to target — they have limited resources, have to divide their focus across multiple departments, and store public data. This leaves local government organizations as a prime target for an attack.
The challenge also lies in the balance of government transparency. Local governments have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard their constituents’ sensitive data while remaining open and transparent. This balance can be a narrow edge to navigate. While open government has made it easier to access public information, it also gives cyber attackers more options to exploit public systems.
Now to address the elephant in the room—one of the biggest contributing factors to the success of a cyber attack is a lack of understanding. Organizations and individuals need to be trained to understand the different signs of potential cyber threats and how to combat them. But not all local governments have the IT resources to protect and safeguard data and keep staff on their toes. Even when organizations do have IT staff, cyber threats are constantly evolving and that requires more time and resources to adequately defend against cyber attacks. Most local governments don’t have the resources to have an IT staff member completely dedicated to cyber security.
So, what can you do to protect your organization?
If you want your organization to be protected, your first line of defense is training your staff to be knowledgeable. Teach them to identify threats and act on them accordingly. Training and awareness are some of the most actionable ways you can protect your organization from cyber attacks.
Join the Cloud – Hosting & Backup+Recovery
There’s no doubt that both hosted and on-premise solutions both have their advantages. But, if you’re looking to protect your data specifically from ransomware attacks(where a hacker is attempting to steal and/or lock down your data to hold hostage for money) –then having a cloud-hosting solution with backup and recovery is the single best thing you can actively do to protect yourself. Check out Harris’ Cloud Services to learn how we can help.
Sharing is NOT Caring
Stop sharing accounts and passwords. Just.Don’t.Do.It. You’re reading this thinking, “We just share one account, and we’re a small operation…it can’t be that big of a deal.” Is that shared account worth $30k in ransom payments because Jesse in Public Works clicked on the wrong email? No? Read the first sentence again. Shared accounts are one of the main vulnerabilities that hackers attack to gain access to greater systems.
Find a Cyber Security Partner
Cyber security is complex, and its importance is growing fast. It’s no secret to hackers that smaller organizations are having a hard time keeping up. Considering the costs, infrastructure needs, and the training and knowledge needed to stay up to date with threats, one of the best decisions a local government can make is to find a cyber security provider to partner with.
That doesn’t mean partner with just anyone. But working with highly recommended cyber security software and service providers is a great start. They can provide expertise and real-time monitoring that are essential to great security infrastructure. Find a cyber security vendor that understands your needs, can work with your IT staff, and has the knowledge and tools to protect your organization from evolving cyber threats.
And if you’re a Harris customer, we’ve partnered with Field Effect to provide our customers with additional, state-of-the-art resources to help combat cyber threats. Covalence is a powerful, easy-to-deploy, and cost-effective platform that monitors and protects your network and devices from cyber security attacks.