Local Governments are Prime Targets for Cyber Attacks

Local authorities in various countries are witnessing a troubling surge in the number of malware and ransomware attacks launched against their networks.

According to figures released by insurance broker Gallagher, local authorities and councils across the United Kingdom were hit by an average of 800 cyberattacks every hour. The first six months of 2019 alone recorded more than 263 million incidents. Local municipalities across the United States have also encountered steadily increasing ransomware infections, with several high-profile incidents in 2019.

As cities and government agencies embrace IP-based services, the potential for crippling cyberattacks rises. Public sector organizations maintain massive amounts of data on their citizens often coupled with a lack of cyber education among their users and cash-poor IT teams, making them a tempting target for cybercriminals. The typical technology refresh cycle is now 18 months and many local resource-constrained cities and government departments are operating with outdated equipment and understaffed IT teams. This perfect storm of potential vulnerabilities is worrying at the least.

So how can local governments better prepare for the eventuality of a crippling cyberattack? One of the first and simplest steps is to educate staff and users on proper cybersecurity etiquette. This will ensure that proper safeguards are being taken while engaging with online services. Other steps include dedicating a proper pool of resources to these organizations to address the basics of cyber-hygiene related needs such as updated software, hardware and firewalls. Also enhancing cooperation at all levels of government will ensure that best practices are implemented, and information shared across the chain of command.

Staying one step ahead of cybercriminals may not be an easy task as it only takes one successful attack to devastate a network and its users. However, enacting proactive security processes will be the most effective way to mitigate against these dangerous threats.

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