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Local Governments Are Prime Targets for Cyber Attacks

A bank notifies a school district that $758,758.70 was scheduled to be transferred overseas. The school district cancelled the transaction. The bank then asked about the $1,190,400 that had already been sent overseas … and about another $1,862,400 that had also been transferred.

 This true story is an example of how vulnerable any organization can be when it comes to cyber security. To help protect local governments from cyber threats, ICMA’s Center for Public Safety Management tapped the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to present a webinar to discuss the issue and share resources available.

The threat is greater than it has ever been, explained Kelvin Coleman, director of government engagement for the DHS Office of Cyber Security. Since 2011, there has been a 42 percent increase in cyber attacks with an average clean-up cost of $592,000 per attack. Local government networks are particularly ripe targets for attack because of the rich private citizen data they contain. From court records to online payment information, criminals can find a treasure trove of information to steal the identity of citizens.

Coleman, along with Tom Duffy, executive director of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), outlined available federal resources from cyber security advisories and event notifications to incident response resources. Cyber security, they emphasized, is very much a local issue since we are all connected on the Internet. Protecting ourselves requires a joint effort that spans from the local up to the federal level.

Learn more about the webinar.

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