Why 2023 is the year of the hacker, and how Municipalities can avoid being victimized by ransomware attacks.
Today’s smart cities depend on cloud technology for efficiency, cost savings and most importantly, data security. For residents and visitors alike, these cities also leverage cloud to improve everything from energy distribution, traffic flow, and trash collection. It improves infrastructure and enables citizens to connect with critical services no matter where they are, and what devices they use. Paying property taxes, renewing parking passes or even booking in a swim at the local pool can all be done with the click of a button online. While our cities continue to become more efficient, connected and convenient, they also become more vulnerable to cyber threats.
In a recent article by the National Post, cyber security experts explain why predict that in 2023, municipalities will experience more municipal ransom attacks than ever before.
“We’ve seen a growth and sophistication of some of these ransomware events. We’re seeing, also, capabilities that used to be in the nation state category now move into the cyber criminal organization,” he said. “The ransomware, phishing emails of five years ago are not the same as the ransomware emails of today.” Sami Khoury, head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Securityhttps://nationalpost.com/news/politics/ransomware-cyber-attacks-2023
But why are cities such a strong target? Here’s why.
SMART CITIES GENERATE A PHENOMENAL AMOUNT OF SENSITIVE DATA
We know that cities collect vast amounts of data about us as citizens. Whether it’s by the public security cameras at the train station, or simply the payment page on your city’s website, your data is being collected every second of everyday. Municipal IT teams take the utmost care in ensuring that data is safe using all sorts of technology like Cyber Monitoring and Backup solutions. The many IoT deployments involved in smart cities collect a vast amount of data. Unfortunately, hackers are always looking for new ways to break into IT networks in order to encrypt the data, demand ransom, or to sell that valuable data on the dark web. Smart cities are like a hacker’s jackpot.
CHAOS IS A MONEY MAKER FOR HACKERS
Halting critical city services is a tactic that works well for hackers demanding ransom. They’ve been known to shut down power, water and traffic operations. In 2020, May 2021, a hacker tried to poison citizens in Florida by tampering with the water treatment plant IT systems. This is just one of the reasons that smart cities need to better secure themselves to guard against these types of hacks.
SHADOW IT PUTS MUNICIPAL DATA AT RISK
Budgetary and technology limitations often cause cities to operate a large amount of disparate IT systems. Shadow IT is useful in patching together legacy systems and newer technologies to make way for innovation and infrastructure growth. However, it can cause vulnerabilities such as improperly deployed backups, compliance issues, and the inability to adapt these applications to the latest threats. Hackers are well trained to spot an opportunity to get into the network undetected, and municipalities are well known for shadow IT vulnerabilities.
THE MORE ENDPOINTS, THE MORE VULNERABILITIES
At the heart of every smart city is a data lake, and a series of IoT devices that all work together to collect and analyze that data. Hackers use these endpoints to make their way into the network to move towards more sensitive data or mission-critical infrastructure. This is why it’s so important to monitor for threats at every possible entry point – or endpoint, that a hacker may have their eye on.
HOW TO SAFEGUARD CITY DATA
- Backup and Disaster Recovery – backing up data ensures that it’s safely stored in an offsite cloud storage repository. Hackers can’t get a ransom payment from municipalities that already have a copy of that encrypted data stored elsewhere. Additionally, a well designed and tested disaster recovery solution enables quick recovery, and minimized downtime, which in turn maintains the trust of shareholders and citizens alike.
- Managed Detection and Response with Covalence, the comprehensive managed detection and response platform that monitors all endpoints, regardless of their location. The security alerts are simplified so that any IT team, regardless of size and expertise, can manage and diffuse any incoming threats.
- Hosted Anti Spam – Protect employees from malicious email links and phishing scams. A hosted anti-spam solution offers the best protection against this type of threat. The pricing is relatively low for protection this valuable.
Keep data protected by deploying the perfect combination of hacker thwarting solutions. All of HostedBizz’s cloud based data protection offerings are backed by 100% Canadian Tier III Data Centers, and a fully trained team of experts who have vast experience in municipal and smart city data protection. Contact us to book an assessment, review of your current disaster recovery plan, or to ask questions about how to optimize your data protection strategy.