As the nation’s cities and public education institutions embrace digital innovation, significant vulnerabilities abound, which is increasingly placing large amounts of the public’s personal data at risk. In fact, in just the past few months, two major American cities experienced significant breaches to their information systems.
In Atlanta, several weeks after a major ransomware attack, the city indicates that they continue to work through an array of issues caused by hackers who held hostage the city’s computer system, including encrypting personal and financial data. Although the city refused to pay the ransom, they did spend more than $2 million to repair the damage and shore-up their systems – a costly outcome that could’ve been prevented.
Similarly, in Baltimore, the city’s 311 and 911 dispatch systems were recently taken offline for over 17 hours, forcing manual logging of incident reporting, which impacted response time and placed residents in need of emergency services at risk.
The reality is our public institutions are under constant attack and the volume of attacks isn’t dropping. In some cases, it’s actually increasing significantly.
While serving as an IT leader in county government, I know first-hand that our public institutions are inadequately prepared to address the risks of today's cyber-attacks. Although some agencies do a good job, they are mostly larger, more well-funded departments with significant resources to manage. However, due to budget constraints and a lack of staff resources and expertise, many smaller municipalities may be unable to proactively respond to cybersecurity threats. One contributing factor is that public officials are often not aware of the need for cybersecurity, which has a direct impact on the ability for towns to allocate the necessary funding to establish proactive policy and practice.
At iboss, we believe an enterprise solution to cybersecurity designed from the ground up for the cloud – and focused exclusively on securing distributed networks (which includes most local governments) – is a key requirement for securing all types of networks – enterprise or public. This kind of tool will place public institutions on a proactive trajectory in correlation with the pressures many local government and education agencies are experiencing to re-invent and “digitize” services and programs.
We also believe thought leadership is a vital contributor to help local governments prepare and maintain a practical and effective cybersecurity program. This is why we are committed to organizations like the National Advisory Council on Cybersecurity.
If you would like to learn how you can quickly and effectively move your network toward a highly-proactive cybersecurity posture as you navigate the many challenges and opportunities to enhance public services, please take a moment to visit the iboss Government Cybersecurity microsite: https://www.iboss.com/solutions/industry/government. If you are a school leader, take a moment to visit our K-12 solutions site: https://www.iboss.com/solutions/industry/k-12.
Please visit me and other members of the iboss team at booth# 427 at the upcoming Gartner Security Summit June 4-7th
Richard Quinones has spent over 20 years taking on important IT leadership roles at the county, state and national levels. His past experience includes being appointed Los Angeles County’s first chief education technology officer, where he led the delivery of IT services across 80 school districts and five community colleges. He was also appointed senior IT advisor to the National Advisory Council on Education Technology (NACET), and commissioned to advance the roll-out of the U.S. President’s National Public Schools Broadband Initiative. He has also served as senior technology advisor to Los Angeles Unified School District officials, including the office of the chief information officer, and chief executive officer of strategic planning and digital innovation. Richard holds a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in e-government from University of La Verne.