FBI: Ransomware Attacks Straining Local Governments and Public Services

The FBI is warning Government Facilities Sector (GFS) partners that cyber actors are increasingly targeting local government agencies, disrupting operational services, jeopardizing public safety, and straining financial resources.

According to an advisory issued by the FBI, ransomware actors continue to stress local governments by causing disruptions to public safety, public health, and other critical services. According to the bulletin, local governments accounted for the second-highest victimized group in 2021, trailing only the academic sector.

In 2021, local government victims were primarily among smaller counties and municipalities, likely due to cybersecurity resource and budget limitations. In addition, these attacks can have significant repercussions for local communities by straining financial and operational resources and putting residents at risk for further exploitation.

According to the FBI:

In the next year, local US government agencies almost certainly will continue to experience ransomware attacks, particularly as malware deployment and targeting tactics evolve, further endangering public health and safety, and resulting in significant financial liabilities. The FBI has an opportunity to disrupt some of this activity by leveraging partnerships with domestic and foreign governments, as well as the private sector, to more effectively identify actors, finances, and infrastructure.

A strong partnership between the State and local governments is essential for safeguarding critical infrastructure and defending against increasingly complex cyber risks. MACo urges the General Assembly to provide a meaningful and lasting State commitment to bolster cybersecurity and prioritize cyber resilience through collaborative efforts to identify, protect against, detect, and respond to malicious cyber threats.

The work of the Ad Hoc Committee on State and Local Cybersecurity of the Maryland Cybersecurity Council embodied this spirit in its report, and MACo is working with the General Assembly on several bills to bolster local cybersecurity defenses and resources. By dedicating needed resources and streamlining collaboration, communication, and coordination, the State can help lead local governments, school systems, and critical infrastructure toward a more cyber-secure future.

According to MACo’s testimony on a package of bills moving through the General Assembly:

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, public safety, and the delivery of essential services.

MACo advocates for the State to offer shared service agreements, 24/7 network monitoring, real-time incident response, statewide risk assessments, and a dedicated cybersecurity support fund to help local governments upgrade IT infrastructure. This will ensure an equitable approach to cyber preparedness and resilience across the state.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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FBI: Ransomware Attacks Straining Local US Governments and Public Services

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