State and Local Coalition to Congress: We Need Help With Cybersecurity

Citing the continuing threat of ransomware attacks, a group of nine associations of state and local government officials, including the National Association of Counties (NACo), this week sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to include a new cybersecurity grant program in any upcoming infrastructure and appropriations packages.

Hackers are increasingly targeting states and local governments with sophisticated cyberattacks. Securing government information systems is critical, as a cyber intrusion can be very disruptive, jeopardizing sensitive information, critical infrastructure, public safety, and the delivery of essential services.

Between 2018 and 2019 alone, known attacks on local governments rose 58.5 percent with an average ransom demand of $835,758.33. Recent attacks on water treatment facilities, pipelines, hospital systems, food processors, and schools districts are clear evidence that cyber incidents disrupt our daily lives and endanger the continuity of government.

According to the letter:

States, territories and localities require a dedicated cybersecurity grant program to ensure prioritization of cybersecurity and intergovernmental collaboration; to ensure stability for long term planning and resourcing; and to prevent adding yet another burden to existing programs intended to meet other needs.

While COVID-19 relief legislation has provided an opportunity for SLTT governments to improve their cybersecurity posture—primarily for securing remote work and enabling remote health and distance-learning programs— the pandemic has amplified significant vulnerabilities in our government networks, especially those operating on outdated technologies. Malicious cyber actors have used attention on COVID-19 to their advantage, further targeting government infrastructure, the health care sector and individual citizens for internet crimes, which include ransomware, phishing and computer-enabled financial fraud.

We urge Congress to authorize and fully fund a dedicated cybersecurity grant program to help states, territories and localities develop and implement innovative and effective cybersecurity practices to better secure our infrastructure and information; help build resources and human capital; better detect, analyze and protect against cyber threats; and enhance partnerships among all levels of government.

We appreciate your continued support and your consideration of this request, and we stand ready to work with you on proposed legislation.

Sincerely,

National Governors Association
Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council International City/County Management Association National Association of Counties
National Association of State Chief Information Officers National Conference of State Legislatures
National League of Cities
The Council of State Governments
United States Conference of Mayors

At the MACo Summer Conference Tech Expo, an expert panel will discuss new and emerging threats; explain how to leverage federal resources to secure IT systems and digital services; and share tips, best practices, and resources to deter, disrupt, prepare for, and respond to cyberattacks.

The “Strengthening Security: Protecting Your Network from Cyberattacks” session will be held Wednesday, August 18, 2021; from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm.

The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 18-21 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Resilient. Responsive…Ready.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

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