Why city and state governments might be unprepared for ransomware attacks

1641980435 Why city and state governments might be unprepared for ransomware

Despite a rise in ransomware, a lack of prevention training and relentless security budgets are putting local governments at risk, according to IBM Security.

Ransomware can target a wide variety of groups. But city and state governments can be hit particularly hard. Attacks against government agencies with valuable assets can affect sensitive accounts, affect community facilities, and even shut down emergency services. Although ransomware incidents against local governments increased in 2022, many organizations remain unprepared for a possible attack, according to a report released Thursday by IBM Security.

SEE: Cybersecurity: We get ingenious (ZDNet / TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF book (Technology Republic)

Index

    Report results

    For their report "Public Sector Security Inquiry," IBM commissioned The Harris Poll to study people working for state or local government agencies in the United States. Based on the 690 employees who responded, the survey found that 73% of them are concerned about upcoming ransomware threats to cities across the country. Among all respondents, half expect ransomware attacks to occur in their community in the next year, 60% see their own workplace targeted by such a cyberattack, and 16% attack ramsomware already available.

    Last year saw an increase in ransomware attacks against U.S. government agencies, affecting more than 100 federal, state and city governments, according to security provider Emsisoft. Despite this increase, half of the employees surveyed for IBM Security said they had not seen any change in preparation from their organizations, and only 38% said they had received general ransomware prevention training . In addition, 52% of respondents said their budgets to counter cyber attacks have remained unstoppable.

    Despite a lack of preparation, 66% of those surveyed said they felt their employer was prepared or at least a little prepared to deal with cyber threats to their services. Some 74% also feel confident in their own ability to detect and prevent aggression.

    SEE: Malware Response Checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

    Selection problems

    As the U.S. prepares for the 2022 election in November, electoral security is a major concern among government employees. Among respondents, 63% said they were concerned that a cyber attack could disrupt upcoming elections, with most identifying their local Electoral Board as one of the three systems most vulnerable in their communities. Cyberattacks can target electoral systems and voting machines but can also be used to attract voters, weaken confidence in electoral systems, and prevent voters from casting votes, IBM said in the report.

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    Beyond government agencies, public school systems can be an attractive target for ransomware. Public schools were the seventh most targeted business for cyber criminals in 2022, according to IBM's X-Force Threat Intelligence Intelligence Index. Among educators surveyed by The Harris Poll, 44% said they had not received basic cybersecurity training, and 70% said they had not received appropriate training specifically on how to deal with cyberattack.

    SEE: What is fileless malware and how do you protect against it? (Free PDF) (Technology Republic)

    Some progress has been made

    While many government agencies and employees appear to be unprepared for ransomware and other cyberattacks, progress seems to have been made since last year. Among respondents, a majority said they have seen improvements in cybersecurity at their employers since 2022, with 70% saying they think their employers are paying attention -really to the threat from cyberattack.

    Solutions

    Many city and state government employees want the federal government to play a greater role in combating cyber attacks. Among respondents, 78% said they believe the federal government should support communities to tackle cyberattacks. Around 76% said they feel cyberattacks need emergency support, similar to the aid used for natural disasters.

    In addition, IBM Security believes that U.S. cities need to strengthen preparedness through collaboration and risk sharing by creating and implementing incident response plans, and by making regular testing prepared through threat symbols.

    Supported by IBM Security and led by The Harris Poll, the survey received responses from 690 local and state employees in the U.S., including those from the IT and Security, emergency services, and public education departments. . The online survey was conducted from January 16 to February 3, 2022.

    See also

    Ransomware

    Image: kaptnali, Getty Images / iStockphoto

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