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Americans to Local Govs: Spend on Security Now

Weary that their local governments are ill prepared to defend against an attack on critical infrastructure or municipal services, Americans said they want to see their state and local governments start spending on cybersecurity in advance of an attack, according to a survey conducted by SecurityFirst

The goal of the survey was, in part, to begin discussions about attacks before they occur. “Civic leaders with the foresight to improve data protection may not be celebrated as a local hero, because no one talks about attacks that never happened,” said Jim Varner, CEO and president of SecurityFirst, in a press release. “But these efforts can help a government keep key services operating smoothly even in the face of a serious event such as in Baltimore, where critical 911 and 311 emergency services were offline for up to 17 hours after a cyberattack.”

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans believe a ransomware attack on their local government could have long-term implications, and only 33% believe their communities are capable of keeping data safe in the event of an attack. Of the more than 1,000 Americans surveyed, only 25% were aware of the recent attack on Atlanta, from which the city is still working to recover.

“Cybercriminals are finding local government agencies to be prime targets for cyberattacks. The City of Atlanta is a recent example, where a ransomware attack is costing the city millions of dollars, after knocking out critical services and erasing years of sensitive data,” said Varner.

Despite being unaware of the extensive damages in Atlanta, 60% of respondents fear an attack like ransomware could jeopardize the critical services of their local governments. Most (77%) are concerned of the impact an attack would have on first responders. Nearly the same number (74%) worries about utilities, 68% about courts and 68% about public schools. In addition, 74% of Americans said politicians need to take data protection more seriously.

“This incident shows how, without data, our communities cease to function in any sort of fashion today’s citizens find acceptable. Data protection needs to be top of mind no matter the size of the community or agency.”

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