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California County Boosts Cybersecurity After Ransomware Hit

The Yuba County, Calif., Board of Supervisors recently approved agreements with three different information technology companies to improve the county's IT security after a ransomware incident in February.

(TNS) — The Yuba County Board of Supervisors recently approved agreements with three different information technology companies to improve the county's IT security after a ransomware incident in February.

Kroll Defender and a Carbon Black software agent have been deployed to all PC workstations and servers within the county's IT system infrastructure, according to IT Manager of Operations and Security Officer Joseph Oates.

Kroll and Carbon Black provide real-time reporting analysis, while invoking automated mitigation playbook tools.

"The services were extended while information technology staff continues to address a complex security mitigation effort to the county's information systems infrastructure," Oates said.

He said while the ransomware attack disrupted county operations, at this time all systems are up and operating.

"Once the ransomware was contained and remediated, IT staff began the recovery effort," Oates said. "The county had reliable backups of its data systems and was able to recover within a reasonable amount of time. The county did not pay out any ransom."

The board also approved a modification to its existing contract with Planet Technologies, which had been working with the county to assist with implementing Microsoft collaboration tools in support of remote work during the pandemic.

The modification added to the scope of the work Planet Technologies does to assist IT staff with implementation of Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection. This is meant to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to advanced threats targeting the county network, according to Oates.

Supervisors approved the purchase of Darktrace Artificial Intelligence that takes targeted action to contain threats within seconds. It's designed to neutralize malicious emails and deliver preemptive protection against targeted email-borne attack campaigns.

"The county has invested in new technology and countermeasure tools to reduce the risks and increase the county's overall security posture," Oates said. "It's important to keep in mind that any effort to address ransomware or other types of computer viruses is not considered preventive, as those who create those viruses are continually working to get past the firewalls of companies and government."

The modification of the agreement with Planet Technologies is a one time cost of $50,000, the contract with Kroll is a one time cost of $148,800, and the Darktrace is an annual cost of $116,000 for the next four years, according to Oates.

"The proposal that went before the board of supervisors this past week represents a very important step in reducing risks for future cyberattacks," Oates said. "Our IT department is constantly tracking ways to strengthen our systems against future attacks."

© 2021 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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