Protecting Local Governments from Ransomware Attacks

Contributed by Kristy James
With the rise of global ransomware attacks, managing networks preventing those type of cyber-attacks in local governments can be challenging. Ransomware is defined as a type of malware that attackers use to infect computer networks. Malware is designed to gain unauthorized access to computers or networks and damage or disrupt systems. The ransomware attack can cripple an entire town’s network infrastructure without the proper protocols in place. When a ransomware attack occurs, its objective is to encrypt the files, stolen data, from a victim’s computer or server. The encrypted data will only be released by the attacker once the victim pays the requested ransom and a decryption key will then be provided. City council members across the country are looking for ways to come together in preparation of going against these attackers. The first big question that is to be answered when or if an attack occurs is whether or not to pay an attackers’ demand. Some entities have their own cyber insurance policies in place that would cover the cost of the release of encrypted data, while others have questions about whether or not to buy cyber insurance policies. When speaking to the FBI, they will promptly tell a company or business to never pay a ransom. One of their biggest reasons for this suggestion is seeing historically attackers will share with others in their slimy field of work which companies pay up and then you become a target yet again. Another reason also is the claim that there is never a guarantee the attackers will decrypt the stolen data as well as, the possibilities the attacker could increase their monetary demands. This paper will focus on ways leaders have handled these massive and coordinated attacks that have often been launched from overseas. The findings will be recommended for further review by the government to help protect other local governments from future attacks.
 
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