State and Local Cybersecurity

CybersecurityWe have seen the perfect storm of cybercrime over the last year. The pandemic forced many employees to work remotely and in less secure environments. Staffing shortages and long hours meant healthcare workers were more vulnerable to phishing attacks. Lately, we’ve seen large corporations victimized as well as the IT infrastructure used by fortune 500 companies and the Federal Government.

State and local governments sometimes struggle the most to keep up-to-date with a cybersecurity framework. Often, city governments do not have the staffing or budget to maintain current supported hardware, not to mention proper employee education on IT best practices.

States are recognizing the threat and responding. So far in 2021, at least 44 states and Puerto Rico have introduced more than 250 bills or resolutions that deal with cybersecurity. The legislation is focused primarily on the following areas:

  • Requiring government agencies to implement cybersecurity training, to set up and follow formal security policies, standards and practices, and to plan for and test how to respond to a security incident.
  • Regulating cybersecurity within the insurance industry or addressing cybersecurity insurance.
  • Creating task forces, councils or commissions to study or advise on cybersecurity issues.
  • Supporting programs or incentives for cybersecurity training and education.

Coverage in the news of attacks like the local water treatment plant in Florida, demonstrate how utilities can be impacted. Additionally, the attack and subsequent shut down of Colonial Pipeline showed how a wrinkle in a private supply chain can become a national concern. The Federal Government reacted to the pipeline shutdown with new regulations on pipeline owners and operators, but they also introduced new cybersecurity regulations on businesses who operate the power grid at the same time.

We are seeing renewed concern for IT security at every level of government. The pandemic may have worsened the threat of attack, but it also emphasized a long standing problem.

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Posted by Charles Wright