Dewpointers Presenting Strategies to Manage IT Security Risk for MMSA

April 20, 2023

Cyber Attacks Aimed at Municipalities

Cyber attacks on municipalities are rising. A 2021 International City/County Management Associations (ICMA) survey found that 36% of local governments reported experiencing a cyber attack in the past year. Of those that experienced a cyber attack, 23% stated that the attack resulted in data loss, and 13% said the attack disrupted operations. Fortunately, there are strategies for municipalities to strengthen their security postures and lessen the risk of a security breach.

Dewpoint’s Mike McGowan, IT Security Specialist, and Solution Architect, and Mike Coyne, Account Executive Local Government, will present Strategies to Manage IT Security Risk for the Michigan Municipal Services Authority on Thursday, April 20th.=

How Vulnerable Are Local Government Organizations?

A combination of budgetary constraints, limited resources, aging systems, and other factors make local governments susceptible to cyber attacks. According to a 2020 report by cyber security firm BlueVoyant, 61% of the 113 local governments they assessed had critical or high-security vulnerabilities. The Center for Internet Security (CIS)’s 2020 Cyber Security Almanac stated that local governments were less likely to have implemented security measures such as network segmentation or vulnerability scanning. As a result, local governments are more likely than other sectors to have experienced a data breach due to a phishing attack.

How Can Local Governments Protect Against Attacks?

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security to resist phishing attempts and reduce the risk of unauthorized access. It is crucial for administrative or privileged accounts.

Regular Updates and Patches

Updates and patches contain fixes to known vulnerabilities and security flaws. Failing to apply regular updates and patches to software and operating systems leave systems and data exposed to cyber-attacks and malicious software.

Network Segmentation

In the event of a breach, proper network segmentation limits an intruder’s damage by preventing them from moving laterally within the system. Segmentation prevents an intruder from gaining access to everything on the network.

Separate Administrative Accounts

Do not use Administrative or privileged accounts for users’ daily operations. These accounts carry added risk because of their high level of access. An attacker can access an organization’s most sensitive data if a privileged account is compromised.

Proper Backup Storage and Testing

Backing up data provides a means of recovering important information in the event of data loss due to system failure, human error, disaster, or cyberattacks such as ransomware. Regular backups ensure critical data can be restored quickly and effectively, minimizing downtime and business disruption. Backups should be done using immutable storage, including at least one offsite copy and one offline or out-of-band copy.

Password Security

Municipalities should enforce a strong password policy with passwords stored in a password vault. In addition, regularly change sensitive passwords.

Incident Response Plan

Developing an incident response plan allows you to quickly and effectively respond to a security incident, minimizing the impact of the incident. It enables employees to act quickly by defining roles, responsibilities, communication, and procedures. It also ensures any compliance regulations are met.

Security Training

The human factor is still the most important part of security. Gartner industry research cites that “22% of all breaches involved phishing, attackers leveraging stolen credentials accounted for 37% of all breaches, human error accounted for 22% of all breaches, and 30% of all breaches involved insiders”. Municipalities should stress the importance of cyber security by implementing regular security training, in-person workshops on the importance of security, and internal tests for compliance.

How Can Dewpoint Help?

A security assessment from Dewpoint’s security experts will help your municipality see the current state of your IT security and provide a roadmap to arm you and your IT infrastructure against cyber threats. We follow a proven methodology based on our experience with government and regulated clients. Chat with one of our experts today.

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