ImageQuest, small towns ransomware targets

This summer has shown that criminals are targeting small governments – cities and school districts – with ransomware. Attacks are costing governments, their insurance carriers, and their taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But city hall and school boards can fight back. City-Journal.org lists several ways communities can battle the flood of malware aimed at their public coffers.

First, small governments should review the advice from CISA, the federal agency overseeing cybersecurity and infrastructure protection. CISA has technical advice on steps to take to protect crucial public systems from attack.

Not surprisingly, this advice includes regular, frequent data backup; safe offline storage of viable data copies; and consistent and prompt installation of software patches and security updates.

Second, local bodies should engage in security awareness training for all municipal and school employees. Employees on the alert for phishing emails are a key first line of defense.

And as phishing attacks grow increasingly sophisticated, security training also includes what to do if something does happen. (Hint: It’s not ‘shut down your desktop and take the rest of the week off.’)

Third, governments are going to have to spend some money on technology expertise. With rogue nations and  criminals targeting emergency services, revenue systems and even elections  – it’s going to take modern equipment and current security measures to protect important systems.

U.S. cities and schools are now a top target of hackers. Experts expect the attacks to increase in number and strength. Local governments must invest in strong cybersecurity measures.