Could Tightening Public Information Rules Slow Cyberattacks?

Portsmith, Virginia officials say that they are being attacked regularly by internet fraudsters and to guard their workplace, they want to make it harder to access public information. Emails, known as “phishing” appear to be from a trusted source and ask people to respond with sensitive information like account numbers of passwords.

To counter this practice, city officials have come up with a loose set of proposals to change the rules that regulate public access to government records. The changes would require people to provide a state ID when asking for data on more than five employees, allow government bodies to require written requests, and allow citizens who write government to opt out of having their “person identifiable information” released through public records requests.

Recent phishing examples include Washington where someone pretending to be a city vendor had staff wire $700,000 to their bank account and Baltimore where scammers shut down city computer systems at a taxpayer cost of $18.2 million.

Counter to this proposal are government watchdog agencies who contend that these policies will make it harder to hold public agencies accountable.

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