Phoenix Technology Group: Blog
Local Governments: Attractive Hacker Targets and Ill-Prepared to Defend
As we live in an era of increasing cyber threats, it is crucial for you to be aware of the risks that your organization or even you as an individual might face. President Joe Biden has recently warned about the likelihood of Russian cyberattacks, emphasizing the need for all sectors, including the private sector, to improve their cyber defenses.
You should understand that this poses a serious challenge not only to big corporations but also to local government entities such as schools and hospitals, which are often seen as “soft targets” due to their limited resources.
When local governments become targets of cyberattacks, the consequences are far-reaching and can affect your daily life. From issuing permits and collecting taxes to ensuring waste disposal and emergency services, local governments are vital to maintaining a stable, functioning society. Disrupting their operations can not only erode trust in the system but also put citizens in potential danger. It is essential for you to stay informed and prepared in the face of these threats.
- Cybersecurity is crucial for both organizations and individuals
- Local governments, schools, and hospitals are vulnerable “soft targets”
- Disrupting local government operations impacts daily life and citizen safety
Government Organizations Are Key Targets
Local governments face an increasing number of cyberattacks, affecting infrastructures such as 911 call centers and public school systems. A successful cyberattack can result in devastating consequences for the targeted local government.
Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, alongside the International City/County Management Association, investigated the cybersecurity preparedness of more than 90,000 local government entities in the United States.
Findings from the survey conducted with local government chief security officers include:
- Cyberattack Awareness: Nearly 1 in 3 local governments would be unable to detect a cyberattack against them.
- Attack Frequency: Among those aware of attacks, almost one-third reported hourly attacks, and nearly half reported daily attacks.
The findings reveal an alarming lack of preparedness and further emphasize the urgent need for improved cybersecurity measures within local governments.
Government Agencies Are Unprepared To Defend Themselves
Lack of proper IT practices, including effective cybersecurity measures, can make cyberattacks even more damaging. Almost 50% of U.S. local governments have reported that their IT policies and procedures do not align with industry best practices.
In many aspects, local governments face similar cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and management problems as private companies. However, local governments particularly struggle with hiring and retaining qualified IT and cybersecurity staff, as they must compete with higher wages and workplace cultures in the private sector or federal government.
Moreover, unlike private companies, local governments are constrained by the need to adhere to state policies, appease elected officials, and navigate the complexities of bureaucratic procedures. These challenges can hinder their preparedness and response to cybersecurity problems, especially in terms of funding. Additionally, essential technologies such as power and water distribution are often controlled by the private sector, which has its own competing interests.
- Local governments face similar cybersecurity challenges as private companies, but have additional hurdles.
- Hiring qualified IT and cybersecurity staff is difficult due to competition with private sector wages and workplace culture.
- Adherence to state policies, political considerations, and bureaucratic procedures can further hamper local governments’ cybersecurity efforts.
- Essential technologies such as power and water distribution are dictated by the private sector and must be considered in cybersecurity efforts.
Large local governments are better equipped to address cybersecurity concerns compared to smaller local governments. Unfortunately, smaller local governments, like other soft targets in cyberspace, face greater constraints, making them more susceptible to successful cyberattacks. The necessary best-practice cybersecurity improvements for smaller cities and towns often compete with other demands on their limited funds and staff attention.
How To Stay Secure
Local governments in the U.S. are appealing targets for various threats, such as global conflicts, hacktivist agendas, and criminal groups seeking profit. With the emergence of artificial intelligence hacking tools and the risks presented by expanding smart devices and the pursuit of “smart cities,” it is crucial for you to take essential measures.
There is no instant or perfect solution to abolish all cybersecurity issues; however, one key action you can adopt is the initiation of fundamental cybersecurity measures. Following guidelines like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s national cybersecurity framework or other widely accepted practices will place you in a good position.
As a participant in local government, it is vital for you to allocate the required resources and employ innovative technologies and approaches to handle cybersecurity risks effectively. Failing to do so puts you at risk for potential technical, monetary, and political repercussions.
Phoenix Technology Group Will Keep Your Government Agency Secure
Phoenix Technology Group has the expertise and tools to protect your local government agency from cyber threats. Hackers have increasingly targeted local government agencies, which are often ill-prepared for such attacks.
By partnering with Phoenix Technology Group, your local government agency can rely on our expertise to enhance security measures and keep valuable information safe from hackers’ reach. Equip your agency with the necessary resources and knowledge to combat cyber threats, and ensure a secure future for your local government operations.