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Washington Counties Brace for Potential Russian Cyber Attacks

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, local governments in Pierce County, Wash., are preparing for the possibility of cyber attacks on Internet, transportation and wastewater treatment plant systems.

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(TNS) — Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, local governments in Pierce County are preparing for possible cyber attacks on internet, transportation and wastewater treatment plant systems.

In the past year, Russian hackers hit a large oil pipeline in Houston, one of the country's largest meat plants and local school district Clover Park.

Security experts told USA Today that because the United States has placed sanctions on Russia, it's only a matter of time until the nation is targeted more directly.

Emergency management officials throughout Washington were made aware of the potential for cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, Tacoma's Emergency Management division said recently.

"In response, departments within the city were encouraged to consider how they were sending and storing information and to be mindful of those critical systems that could be a potential focal point for a cyberattack," the division said.

Tacoma staff have been encouraged to be careful of sending some information over email and to be aware of phishing attempts. Tacoma's Emergency Management division said if changes needed to be made, staff were "encouraged to do so until the perceived threat of a cyberattack was not as concerning as it is currently."

There are no credible specific threats to Pierce County.

"We are working with regional, state and federal partners to monitor and address any activity," Emergency Management spokesperson Mike Halliday said.

Tacoma declined to share whether there has been a credible cyber-security threat to the city's infrastructure.

"The city regularly evaluates and modifies its security profile to ensure common and critical systems are protected," the city's emergency management staff said. "Information regarding whether or not changes are made are a fundamental part of that security effort and, therefore, are not shared outside of the organization."

© 2022 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.