How Should Counties Handle Cyberattacks?

When hackers demanded $51,000 from the city of Atlanta, Atlanta refused to pay. City officials did not want to encourage attacks like this in the future and ultimately paid a higher price than the ransom. While costs associated with the attack were high, it also brought about a realization on how unprepared the City was and what steps were needed to build a better future. Since joining the team, Atlanta’s Chief Information Officer Gary Brantley has been helping the city focus on building a continuity plan so the government can continue to operate in the case of a new attack.

From NextGov’s Coverage:

When an attack happens, city employees might find they don’t know how to reach their colleagues without city-issued devices and email accounts, for example. Or an agency might know to keep backups of its data, she said, but if the backups are connected to a compromised network, they could be corrupted along with everything else.

And then there’s the communication aspect. That can be especially tricky, because it can be difficult to determine the full scale of a cyberattack. Also, the public might not understand many of the technical language involved. Whitmore said she cautions clients not to offer up more information than they’re certain of. Atlanta, for example, originally said people who had made financial transactions with the city should monitor their bank accounts—conveying a threat that wasn’t really present, Whitmore said, and inciting more fear than was necessary.

In the age of technology, it is extremely important for local governments to be plan for the future, not just in information technology, but in all aspects of government. If you are interested in discussing how we can work together to build a strong foundation for the changes to come, join us at MACo Winter Conference!

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