Unprecedented cyber attacks on the networks of local administration in Atlanta have sent a ripple of worry across the cyber security community. They are of the belief that such attacks can easily be replicated to affect the networks of other local governments.
Some relevant concerns have recently been shared by an Austin-based senior digital security researcher Mark Loveless while taking to a local television. Loveless works with Duo Security’s Austin office. He says that ransomware attacks are getting more traction because with attacks such as Atlanta’s they are resulting into affecting more people.
He thinks that the digital infrastructure in Austin has comparatively better security than The Athens of the South. But there are still some major issues of the security, which makes local administration vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
For instance, the city announced a five-year IT strategic plan four years ago. It was mainly focused on streamlining and standardizing citywide municipal networks. Security of these upgraded IT systems was not touched upon in the plan. According to Loveless, this is strange and should have been taken into account.
Loveless also thinks that the city administration doesn’t have enough IT workforce to prevent major attacks and prompt immediate ransomware removal measures because most of the skilled professionals are working for private IT firms which are attracting accomplished individuals through more lucrative incentives.
On the other hand, Jimmy Flannigan, a member of city council who also worked as a web developer for nearly two decades, shows confidence in the local government’s IT staff to address any glitches in the digital security of the city following the Atlanta attack. Nevertheless, he is worried that the city’s status as a local IT hub might project a false perception of the cyber security measures taken by the administration.
Flannigan also points out towards use of weak passwords in public IT networks. It’s important to note that SamSam, the ransomware strain that affected the network of Atlanta’s municipality system, infiltrates the system by deciphering weak passwords. The city administration of Austin hasn’t shared any cyber security plan in the wake of the ransomware attack in Atlanta.