Have you conducted a disaster recovery drill to make sure your DR plan is effective?
Whether it’s sophisticated cybercrime, such as ransomware attempting to steal data, or natural disasters that halt emergency management systems – it’s more urgent than ever for municipalities to protect their IT infrastructures and data.
In a previous blog post entitled, Ransomware Targets Government Sector and Ravages Industries Worldwide, we discussed how enormous ransomware cyberattacks have rippled across the world targeting many industry sectors – including city governments. These attacks include the recent Petya (aka GoldenEye), reported in late June 2017, as well as WannaCry May 2017.
While ransomware can target any industry, business or individual, Government Computer News reports that the government sector is seeing a larger proportion of ransomware attacks than ever before. Therefore, municipal organizations must be on high alert and learn how to protect their networks against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.
However, protecting against malware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks, is a multi-tiered process that involves everyone at every level of an organization. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
Invest in the latest Hardware/Software:
Having the most updated operating systems (OS) such as Windows 10 is a good prevention measure as newer OS tend to have fewer security vulnerabilities. If you have a less current OS, experts warn to “apply the latest Microsoft security patches for this particular flaw.”
Ensure your anti-virus programs are conducting regular scans with the latest virus signature files.
Update or invest in new systems that offer more protection such as Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW). NGFW have many advantages including deep-packet inspection, application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and intelligence from outside the firewall.
Ensure employees at all levels of an organization are trained and understand what malware is and how to spot rogue emails. Employees need to know that they should never open attachments sent by an unknown sender. CXO Today reports that “…cybercriminals often distribute fake email messages mimicking email notifications from an online store or a bank, luring a user to click on a malicious link and distribute malware.” As such, organizations also need to update antispam settings.
Have a Security Plan/Incident Response Team in Place:
Having a security or incident plan in place for when an attack occurs is a proactive strategy for dealing with a cyberattack. CXO Today writes, “Internal confusion within the teams often delays the response to the cyberattack causing potential loss to the organization. Therefore, it is essential to establish an incident response team, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.”
A security plan also can include a concise inventory of assets, users, applications, and traffic flows. Without knowing what you have, data can be stolen quickly and may not be detected for months.
City governments must ensure their data is properly protected. Ransomware and other cyber threats are very real, and happening with rapidly increasing frequency all over the globe. For more information on protecting your network, contact DiamondIT.
In the past two months, enormous ransomware cyberattacks have rippled across the world targeting many industry sectors – including city governments. These attacks include the recent Petya (aka GoldenEye), reported in late June 2017, as well as WannaCry May 2017.
The fact is ransomware has become the cybercrime “du jour” and according to NBC News, is now a billion dollar industry.
Slowly but surely, cities around California are experimenting with body cameras on their police officers. Studies suggest that these have the potential to dramatically improve the relationship between the police and the community. It is a big decision, however; Los Angeles, for example, is weighing the hefty $57.6 million price tag for outfitting the LAPD over the next five years.1 Meanwhile, Sacramento’s mayor implored the chief of the SPD to consider body cameras to “restore the connectivity between our officers and the community.”2 That connectivity isn’t free, however. Beyond the $500-to-$1,000-per-unit cost3 of the cameras themselves, there are significant logistical issues to be worked out on the IT side of the equation: where to store the footage, how to organize it, how to keep it secure, and so on. In lieu of weighing down the police department’s IT team with several new headaches, it would be wiser (and cheaper!) to trust the right partner for storing data on a secure cloud.
I recently saw an interesting post about how more and more cities are relying on the cloud for part of their IT infrastructure. The slideshow highlights a number of large metro areas, and it is very exciting to see places like Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco take substantial steps towards leveraging the power of the cloud. The cloud gives cities abundant and powerful resources without increasing costs. Even better, the cloud makes interoperability between agencies and divisions simple and seamless. From collaboration tools to email, cloud solutions provide robust and always-on infrastructure to cities large and small around the world.
It’s easy to think that cloud service providers just stick to the cloud, leaving other IT issues to standard IT providers. We’ve heard it before too. Workstations, switches, and servers. Email, firewalls, and security. And maybe some organizations out there do stick to just a few commonly known, core competencies. At DiamondIT, however, we take a holistic view of the network—and that means that over time we have developed a skill set that is both wide and deep when it comes to supporting our clients. In the words of one of our Team Leads, we view the network as a complete system. We aren’t just about computers or servers—we are about the entire network. And any technology that helps your organization or agency be more successful and reach your goals, we can and will support.
How different is DiamondIT when it comes to supporting your entire IT infrastructure and strategy? Consider the work we did with the City of Wasco, who came to us with some particular challenges and particular goals. Together, we’ve built a network that solves those challenges and delivers even better services and support to the community.
When towns grow, even the most dedicated and community-oriented police departments have to adapt or risk not being able to provide their vital services. Tehachapi was one of those towns. Nestled high in the Tehachapi Mountains and forged by the surrounding deserts, this Kern County town has seen its population nearly triple since 1990. While it is still a peaceful and well-policed town, this growth meant an increase in the normal day-to-day crime rate, such as vandalism, petty theft, burglary, hit-and-run, and other minor incidents.
This increase overwhelmed the police dispatch system. Citizens would call in, and the small force and dispatch crew tried to parcel them out as efficiently as possible. Despite a heroic effort, the system was difficult on citizens and police alike. Clearly, something needed to be done. With the help of DiamondIT, Tehachapi modernized their dispatch system, became more connected, more efficient, and more responsive to their community’s needs. How they did so is a model for any organization to follow.
The calls come in at all hours: a robbery across town, a medical emergency at a neighbor’s house, a restaurant has caught fire in the middle of the night. Every minute counts in an emergency. We learn from an early age exactly what to do—pick up the phone and dial 911. Someone needs help, and now help is on the way. But when you or a neighbor calls 911, do you even know where the call is going?
In large cities, a centralized dispatch system coordinates resources to make sure help is sent as quickly and efficiently as possible. When you dial 911 in Sacramento or Bakersfield, the call is being answered locally and in the same general area as the city. But many small towns actually have to work together to provide 911 dispatch services. Because of the required call threshold to receive public funding for dispatch service in California, many of these smaller and more rural towns outsource their 911 services to a nearby, larger town. Don’t worry. The person answering the phone is able to send police, fire, or medical service in your area using local resources, but the call itself might be answered in a town ten, fifteen, or even fifty miles away.
Several years ago, a well-regarded survey noted that police chiefs and administrators around the country were increasingly considering cloud solutions for their IT needs.1 And while this survey is certainly a healthy indicator of progress, many changes that were predicted a few years ago have yet to be realized. Why? Because although cloud solutions are starting to gain traction at a number of levels of law enforcement, certain regulations and rules have made the transition slower than it otherwise might be.
Authorities for the state of Delaware set out to reduce IT spending and discovered a concept that is growing in popularity: reduce hardware costs by allowing and even encouraging employees to use their own devices. They gave it a whirl. From smartphones to laptops to tablets, the state recognized $2.5 million in savings just by letting employees use the devices that they themselves had already paid for.1 The rise of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) applications means that in a growing number of cases, any device that’s able to connect to the Internet or to a specific network can be used to fully perform all necessary work-related tasks.