Ransomware attacks are projected to occur every 14 seconds by the end of 2019, and government agencies remain a prime target for cyberattacks. According to Gartner, 95% of CIOs expect cybersecurity threats to increase and impact their organizations in 2019.

Is your agency prepared?

Cybercrime is a constantly evolving threat where the already-high stakes have nowhere to go but up. Where before data was only copied, now data is also being destroyed or distorted as a way to breed distrust between an organization and the public. Ransomware attacks, where all your data is held hostage until you pay a ransom, are on the rise. Cyberattacks can do everything from disrupting an airport’s operations to crippling an organization’s finances – the average cost of a cyberattack can easily exceed one million dollars for a single organization.  

Here are the 3 “C’s” local government agencies should remember when creating a cybersecurity plan:

  1. Calculate risk – No matter how large or small, all local government agencies are a potential target for a cyberattack and must evaluate their risk. The most important areas of assessing risk include determining what data and systems are most vulnerable, the levels of security each one needs and how best to secure them. When agencies are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they are empowered to be proactive in the fight against cyberattacks.
  2. Cloud technology – No system is completely immune to the threat of cyberattacks, but switching your systems to the cloud can provide a much stronger line of defense for your organization in the event of an attack. Most local government agencies don’t have the time, financial resources or personnel to stay on top of security updates or worrisome cyber threats. With cloud-hosted technology, that crucial task is transferred over to a team well-versed in keeping up with the latest cybersecurity measures. Plus, cloud backups create redundancies of your data, protecting it from ransomware attacks.
  3. Cultural change – A common thread that weaves through virtually every cyberattack is human error. Employees are the front line of defense against cybersecurity attacks, from the police chief and mayor down to the summer intern at the front desk. It’s vital to teach all employees cybersecurity tips and educate them on identifying common guises for attack, like phishing emails. In fact, 71% of cyberattacks are launched through spear phishing attacks, which use targeted information like an employee’s name or job title to make the phishing email seem more legitimate. Employees should be knowledgeable of an agency’s cybersecurity plan and what is expected of them.

Cybercrime isn’t going away anytime soon. With greater adoption of new government technologies and a rise in interconnected devices necessary for optimizing workflow, there are more entry points than ever for hackers and cybercriminals to penetrate an organization. Government agencies must remain vigilant against this ongoing threat; with the right cybersecurity plan in place, they can be well prepared when the next attack comes knocking.