Why do local governments get targeted for cyber attacks?
Recent data reveals that nearly 70% of all ransomware attacks in the United States are targeted at state and local governments. Hackers seem to have discovered that cities are a soft target. That much has been made clear from the huge spike in cyber-attacks targeted at local governments in the wake of the pandemic. Since it is very difficult to hold people accountable for ransomware attacks, it has pretty much become routine for cybercriminals to target local governments. Cybersecurity Fresno can be a valuable resource for organizations seeking assistance in combating ransomware attacks. In this article, we will try and explore why attackers are targeting local governments and what Government officials can do about it.
Obstacles in mitigating cyber threats for local governments
Lack of funding
Local governments often suffer from a lingering lack of resources from consecutive budgets cuts etc. Implementing a robust cyber defense strategy does involve some considerable upfront costs that the department may not have the clearance for. These budget limitations often leave departments using outdated hardware and software and ultimately, highly exposed to ransomware and other cyber attacks.
Inadequate technical skill sets and IT expertise
Since local governments often work with limited budgets, few have the flexibility to have dedicated IT staff on board. This often leads to people performing IT duties without the requisite skill sets or expertise. In case of an emergency, such as a security or privacy breach, this lack can lead to tremendous losses and damage. If local departments lack relevant in-house resources, they should try to get third-party help from managed services providers in order to resolve vulnerabilities and guide them with security recommendations.
Lack of cyber awareness
Members of the local government may be well-versed in what they do, but they often suffer from a serious gap in IT skills and general cyber security awareness. This trend is prevalent among employees across ranks and they tend to suffer from a lack of training, knowledge, and awareness that can ultimately make them easy targets for cyberattacks, especially those that leverage social engineering. With IT Support Sacramento, you can keep your network and essential data safe from spurious traffic requests.
Steps for Local Governments to mitigate cyber security risks
Having a robust data backup plan in place can prevent your company from sustaining critical damages from ransomware attacks. With the rising instances of ransomware attacks across industries, it pays to think of data backup as necessary insurance. You also need to ensure redundancy and availability in your data backups. This means you will need to have data backups on-site, offsite and in the cloud to ensure redundancy. You should also regularly test your backups to check for their availability and if they are updated.
Managed Security Services
If you find yourself at sea trying to address the security requirements of your network and business, it may be well worth your while to engage reputed managed security services. These organizations generally have security experts on board who can strategize your approach to cybersecurity through uncovering all potential vulnerabilities, prioritizing them, and effectively helping manage risk.
Take a Proactive Approach
The rate of cyber attacks these days means that government organizations need to move from a reactive to a proactive stance when it comes to managing security. This means being on top of all antivirus protection, system updates, and patching as well as being prepared for future compliance regulations.
Regular Risk Assessments
Third-party network risk assessments are absolutely critical to ensuring the long-term security of your network. Ideally, you should be conducting these assessments every year.
Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures
Hackers are always on the lookout for both human and technical vulnerabilities in any company’s network. For effective management of security risks, companies need to have robust cybersecurity policies and procedures in place. The NIST cybersecurity framework has gained popularity as it is applicable across a broad range of industries and use cases. The framework essentially follows a common set of best practices and risk management principles. Organizations should always remember that documented policies are the most effective way to establish a foundation for transparent cyber security governance. In addition, with supply chain attacks on the rise, organizations should even go one step beyond and have security protocols for all vendors and service providers including minimum technical viability and compliance requirements. This could form the basis of third-party due diligence performed by local governments for the evaluation of vendors for compliance and risk on an annual basis. It could also be worthwhile for local governments to consider maintaining a vendor database that stores all relevant due diligence information, risk ratings, and monitoring information.
Education and Training
Humans are unfortunately the weakest link in any cyber security chain. It is incredibly important for local governments to conduct regular security awareness training programs for all their employees across ranks. The employee should be able to detect phishing attempts, know what to do in case of a privacy or security breach, and follow basic security protocols including maintaining password hygiene, not leaving electronic devices or peripherals unprotected, not using public or unsecured Wi-Fi connections, and more. IT Consulting Sacramento has effective options available for preventing cyber security risks.