New Legislation Would Help Local Gov with Cybersecurity

New legislation would establish a grant program to help address cybersecurity vulnerabilities within government networks, with the goal of protecting cities from ransomware attacks like the one that crippled Baltimore.

by Talia Richman, The Baltimore Sun / February 12, 2020
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(TNS) — U.S. Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger is supporting legislation that would establish a grant program to help address cybersecurity vulnerabilities within government networks, with the goal of protecting cities from ransomware attacks like the one that crippled Baltimore last year.

The bill, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, would create a $400 million Department of Homeland Security grant program to bolster state funding for cybersecurity, as well as require the department help local and state governments develop strategies to improve their security.

“Hackers are increasingly targeting state and local governments, as we painfully learned in Baltimore last year, where a ransomware attack cost the city more than $10 million,” Ruppersberger, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Even worse, some communities are actually paying the ransom — it’s a risk calculation that many at the state and local level do not have the expertise to make."

The legislation would also create a committee to advise federal officials on the cybersecurity needs of local governments.

During the May attack in Baltimore, hackers gained access to city systems andthen encrypted files using ransomware and demanded payment to unlock the files, which Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young refused to pay. The attack disrupted employees’ email service, halted water billing, suspended real estate transactions and cost the city millions.

The city’s spending board later approved a plan to purchase $20 million in cyber liability insurance to cover any additional disruptions to city networks over the next year.

©2020 The Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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