In October 2020, the City of Shafter experienced an alarming ransomware cyberattack. The cybercriminals gained control of important city IT systems, locked out employees, and temporarily cut off services for citizens.
Shafter is not alone. Cybersecurity experts estimate that 2019 alone saw a 60% increase in attacks against local governments at all levels. While the numbers are still being compiled for 2020, we do know that there has been a 7-fold increase in cyberattacks this year and can presume that cities are being targeted at alarming rates.
Smaller cities often find themselves targeted for these types of attacks because their size often correlates to a reduced IT budget. Therefore, criminals assume less IT security and fewer trained employees in their way. This only increases the appeal for criminals interested in digital attacks.
Your Organization Could Be the Next Victim of Cybercrime
Around the same time as the attack in Shafter, the FBI warned of cyberattacks specifically targeting Kern County businesses and local government agencies. But this is nothing new. In fact, it’s taking place in nearly every county in the country, every day. The FBI warning reflects a broader truth: small cities have been severely impacted by the rapid increase of cybersecurity attacks.
Hackers are looking for vulnerabilities to cash in on, and city government agencies are notoriously unguarded. They are consistently probing security systems in organizations of all sizes, every day, to identify weaknesses created by underinvesting in cybersecurity and a lack of staff cybersecurity awareness. It’s imperative that you ensure you have the cybersecurity protocols in place that will withstand attacks and allow you to get back up and running successfully if a breach does occur.
How These Attacks Devastate Towns and Businesses
Many local government agencies find themselves caught unaware because they assume that their small size would serve as a deterrent for criminals. Instead, these cybercriminals see their size and assume that it comes with a smaller budget and, subsequently, less cybersecurity protection. These cities become easy and convenient targets.
We have witnessed first-hand how devastating attacks on small cities can be. City officials should never be forced to pay money to these criminals. At the same time, they know that the longer their digital systems remain out of commission, the more a reduction in city services can create risks for their residents.
Within towns and cities, people trust the internet for everything such as:
- Paying utility bills
- Connecting with emergency services
- Learning about issues before their local government
When cyberattacks violate this trust and affect these core services, chaos ensues.
How Cybersecurity Protects Your Agency
Not all agencies have taken the necessary precautions to ensure that their citizens’ data remains secure. Many organizations overlook or downplay the idea that it’s even necessary. Instead of arming themselves with IT security and training, managers often scramble to get their systems working effectively again without paying ransoms or otherwise compromising themselves, their constituents and the government agency as a whole.
As a managed security service provider, Diamond IT understands the complexities of cybersecurity for county and local government offices. Clients like the City of Delano and the City of Tehachapi have trusted us to protect their network for years. We understand the nuances of records retention, CJIS and CLETS requirements and what it takes to support those that serve our communities. We safeguard cities, counties, school boards, police departments and help businesses recover from cyberattacks. Those that have been attacked have been back up and running within 24 hours without compromising sensitive data.
Attacks on small cities threaten the safety and security of citizens and jeopardize the integrity of the agency’s operations. Cybersecurity offers prevention, detection, training, urgent response to attacks, remediation and any additional layers necessary to prevent future incidents.
Don’t leave the safety of your community to chance. Contact the cybersecurity experts at Diamond IT today.