How state and local governments can prepare for ransomware

Over the past few months, ransomware attacks abounded. Agencies faced a barrage of malicious cyberattacks and often had fewer resources for protecting themselves. With the federal government preoccupied with the fallout from SolarWinds, state and local officials were oftentimes forced to defend their systems on their own when an attack finally occurred.

Because state and local organizations are especially vulnerable to the challenges in cyberspace, they need tailored guidance if they want to become more cyber-secure.

The primary recommendation is to increase state and local government resources for personnel and funding. States spend less than 3% of their IT budgets on cybersecurity, according to a 2020 report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, and only 36% of states have dedicated cybersecurity appropriations. With cyberattacks costing states anywhere from $665,000 to $40.53 million in recovery costs, most current cyber budgets are simply insufficient in today’s digital age.

Luckily, state and local governments can bolster their cybersecurity knowledge by setting up systems that draw upon resources from the private sector with several states having begun creating volunteer programs to help strengthen their cyber capacity. Having commercial cybersecurity aid for sharing knowledge and tools between state and local workers — before a potential cyberattack — can drastically improve existing protocols.

Officials at state and local government should also establish a cyberattack response plan and a planning framework. Making each section of the plan as detailed as possible can increase cybersecurity capabilities for prevention and response in manageable, incremental steps.

Educating state and local organizations to establish better contingency planning structures, by following best practices based on past experiences, can make the challenges ahead more manageable.

Summarized from StateScoop

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