For the past decades, technology has played a significant role in society’s development, influencing how we work, communicate, and live. Since the internet boom during the nineties, the possibilities have expanded in almost every field. Even though most of the transformations have been positive, there has also been a dark side, with new cybercrimes and online scams emerging every day. To deal with this, police around the globe have had to adapt and find new ways to face these new challenges, partnering with IT experts.
While data breaches of large consumer institutions get the most attention, these attacks are not only limited to businesses. Many countries, cities, and other public agencies are being targeted with ransomware and different kinds of cyberattacks, causing privacy breaches while losing billions of dollars at the same time. In 2020, a report estimated ransomware attacks cost local and state governments over 18 billion.
For this, public safety agencies must take action to protect critical infrastructure from ransomware and other attacks by embracing strategies and mechanisms that help prevent and avoid data breaches and system compromises.
According to Dr. Pranshu Bajpai, a Motorola Solutions Security architect, cybercriminals increasingly target public safety systems to demand ransomware. What usually happens is that attackers disable critical systems of an agency and blackmail them until they agree to pay considerable sums of money. Ransomware has become a profitable business model for hackers.
Moreover, security failures can be life and death when PSAPs controlling 911, dispatch, and other critical communications are forced offline. COVID-19 has only complicated the scenario with an immense number of workers going remotely, increasing the possibility of a security breach. But what can agencies do to prepare for these new threats? Here are our recommendations.
FIND A TRUSTED PARTNER
Preventing cyber-attacks goes beyond the financial and technical capacities of many public organizations. Finding the right security tech partner is more effective than having an in-house security team working 24/7. This method can provide more cost-effective protection to help your agency detect, prevent and respond to cybersecurity incidents. Managed security services can provide 24/7 assistance and help you to:
- Plan, configure and maintain security infrastructure.
- Detect and respond to security incidents.
- Review activity to look for signs of compromise.
- Collect and securely store log files for forensics and compliance.
Hiring a cybersecurity provider allows most institutions to get all the benefits without the expense and distraction of building one yourself.
HOW TO FUND YOUR CYBERSECURITY NEEDS?
Cybersecurity doesn’t come cheap, but being vulnerable to an attack can be far more costly. The good news is there’s a range of possibilities to help you fund your needs. For example, Grants.gov posts announcements on specific grant programs with application information.
While designing our agency’s cybersecurity plan, we also look at potential federal funding sources like the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency, FEMA, and the Department of Homeland Security. Overall around 6 billion are available in federal grant funding for cybersecurity initiatives by local government organizations. Programs like the state’s Homeland Security Grant Program or the Port Security Grant Program are a great way to plan your investment. To apply for Homeland Security grant programs, agencies must complete a cybersecurity risk assessment that includes a scope of different projects that focus on improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity and training and planning.
While it’s challenging, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in this, with more opportunities to transform your department’s operation. Apply for a grant and find the right tech partner to support you.