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A Note on Ransomware: The Biggest Cyber Threat to Local Government

By Alannah Dragonetti

Atlanta, Georgia. Davidson and Mecklenburg Counties, in North Carolina. Colorado’s Department of Transportation. Twice. The last few months have seen local governments across the United States fall victim to ransomware attacks. We explain what ransomware is, why your administration is the perfect target and what you can do to protect yourself and your constituents.


Malicious and Mercenary

Malicious software, or malware, ransomware, hooks onto devices through phishing scams, slips through holes in security and makes its presence known. As its name implies, ransomware holds the victim’s data hostage, demanding a fee with the promise that it will restore the data upon payment.

Sometimes access is restored, and other times, the cyber criminals behind the attack do not hold-up their end of the bargain. Every time ransomware strikes, the victim is left with the unsettling knowledge that sensitive data has been compromised.

Corrupting Government

Any person or entity can fall victim to ransomware, but there are key factors that make local government agencies a frequent target of attack.For starters, municipal and county administrations are responsible for, and in many ways, reliant upon, sensitive constituent data. Local government officials are willing to pay attackers large sums of money to access it. As security expert, Allan Liska, explains, local government agencies “have oftentimes a mandate to pay the ransom, because constituent services are being disrupted.”


GovPilot government software

Cyber criminals have publicized and proven success in using ransomware to squeeze money out of counties and municipalities.


Despite a growing number of districts opting to leverage today’s tools to streamline operations, local government has a reputation for falling behind the curve when it comes to embracing the latest technology. Whether this reluctance is rooted in budget restrictions, an adherence to tried and true (albeit inefficient) practices, or some combination of the two, the impression of local government as lagging several years behind other industries makes city hall an easy target. Cyber criminals’ publicized and proven success in using ransomware to squeeze money out of counties and municipalities does little to discredit this perception.

Guarding Your Government

Your place of work is a prime target for a ransomware attack. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to guard your government.

As previously mentioned, ransomware has been known to attack through a number of avenues, including phishing emails and flaws in a device’s security configurations. Don’t take the bait. Refrain from opening suspicious emails and type fishy URLs into your browser instead of directly clicking on the hyperlink.


GovPilot government software

Ransomware has been known to attack through a numer of avenues, including phishing emails.


A good way to ensure that malware can’t penetrate your software is by ensuring that software is properly deployed. It’s easy when your software is GovPilot. Our team of experts work with each client to customize,deploy and train employees to use our modules for optimal security and productivity. With 100 plus GovPilot modules to choose from, you can manage all of your departments’ data on a single platform, which is easily operated by your team; maintained and regularly updated by ours.

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