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April 07, 2016

Cybersecurity: An Issue No Government Can Ignore

Are you under the impression that cybersecurity is a problem that only businesses face? If so, think again. The problem is just as dire at the local, state and federal government levels, too.

Take, for example, the high profile data breach at the Texas State Comptroller’s office that compromised about 3.5 million private records and cost taxpayers at least $1.8 million in damages.

Following the incident, State Rep. Carol Alvarado, chair of the House Committee on Urban Affairs, spoke out on the issue.

“Who’s keeping the lights on?” Alvarado queried of KVUE TV in Austin following the incident. “That’s the bottom line if there is a cybersecurity attack. How soon can you restart? How soon can you reboot? What is the emergency plan?”

According to a survey by the Texas Municipal league, 56 percent of 144 responding cities are now protecting themselves by encrypting their information and updating their anti-malware software. Yet less than 40 percent of respondents have a dedicated cybersecurity policy set in place. And just 22 percent of respondents include cybersecurity incidents in their disaster recovery plans.

“A major concern is that cities do not have an advisory group to help educate city leaders on this issue,” explained Texas Municipal League policy analyst JJ Rocha.

Even more frightening is the fact that, according to a recent testimony before the House Committee on Government Transparency and Operation, the average government entity devotes between just 1 and 2 percent of their budget to cybersecurity.

This is a problem that needs to change moving forward. 

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