State and Local Governments, Cyber Risks Nationwide

by Forrest Allen

Nearly half of state and local government entities are the targets of cybercrime and fraud on a daily basis. Up to a third are unaware of how frequently they are attacked. This was all confirmed in a recent study conducted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the University of Maryland Baltimore College (UMBC). 

A majority of state and local government entities simply don’t have the expertise nor the resources to effectively counter the ever growing number of criminals targeting them. It is currently not a fair fight. But even putting the basics in place is affordable risk mitigation. Cybersecurity Technology and best practices can enable the good guys!

The targets are local; the attackers are global. Pick any of the 89,000 state and local governmental entities across the country. Local 911 call centers, police stations, city courthouses and other critical services are regularly facing the threat of ransomware (a type of malicious software in which the victim’s data is held or access blocked unless a ransom is paid), phishing attacks (a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information by disguising as a trustworthy entity through electronic correspondence), and more. These entities hold valuable information ranging from personal data to payment information to gas pipeline controls.

Unsurprisingly, greater funding is cited as the top need when it comes to ensuring the highest level of cyber security at the local level. However, education and awareness could have an immediate impact on mitigating a gamut of cyber risks.  While a quarter of local government entities are aware of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework, often these controls are based upon sophisticated cyber practitioner approaches, vice starting with the practical and affordable basics that can be adopted by cyber novices. 

Another study by Statescoop and Cyberscoop highlights the gaps in state and local real-time awareness and response tools. About half of state and local entities consider themselves highly or completely effective in securing either information technology (IT), like cloud based platforms and IoT devices, or operational technology (OT), like water or traffic systems.

That means about half could also use a little help. An emergency response center doesn’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get basic cyber risk mitigation solutions. We are talking about basic cyber risk solutions, coupled with employee awareness and training. When it comes to preparing for a cybersecurity emergency, you can no longer roll the dice.

Wondering how to take the first steps? Here are a few basic affordable solutions to get started:

  • Bitdefender Anti-Virus Plus delivers multiple layers of protection against ransomware by using behavioral threat detection to prevent infections. It also can protect your most important documents from ransomware encryption.
  • Trend Micro’s Ransom Buster protects against all forms of ransomware and adds an additional layer of protection to your PC to safeguard your important files and treasured memories - even if you already have security software installed.
  • Webroot Secure Anywhere AntiVirus harnesses cloud technology and artificial intelligence to stop zero-day threats in real time. Webroot secures businesses and individuals worldwide with threat intelligence and protection for endpoints and networks.
  • Acronis Active Protection module watches for and prevents ransomware behavior. It uses whitelisting to avoid falsely flagging valid tools such as encryption software.

Local agencies are looking for solutions to identify cyber vulnerabilities and take an active approach to mitigate risks. WhiteHawk is here to help.

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