New Milford IT Department: Small Changes Make Town Safer
December 19, 2019
By Chris Gilson, CCM communications writer
It seems like every day, there is another news report about a town or city that got hit with a cyberattack. While these attacks grow more and more sophisticated, a series of simple measures is enough to stem a majority of attacks. In the town of New Milford, the IT director is helping keep a tight ship.
The lead of a recent news story from the Danbury News-Times speaks to the urgency of this problem: “About 100 days ago, the town’s information technology system was considered vulnerable to attacks.”
These attacks often come in the form of Ransomware attacks from Eastern Europe, Iran, and from within the United States according to the National Security Agency. Towns that have fallen victim to these attacks have had to pay thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to either pay the ransom or to rebuild their entire networks.
One of the most often cited cases is that of Atlanta, who chose the latter path, and spent $2.6 million on a $50,000 ransom. This explains why so many towns have chosen to just pay the ransom and why the New York Times called this the “summer of crippling ransomware attacks.”
Not Fort Knox back to top
While one municipality cannot make their IT departments like the Fort Knox of Cyberspace, there have been simple changes that the town of New Milford initiated that will greatly reduce the risk of one of these attacks happening to them.
This includes a simple backup and redundancy feature. A backup is one of the most basic safety features, and most people who use a smartphone are familiar with the process. With a town, city, or even business, one key feature is keeping this backup off the town’s network.
“If the town were to be hacked now,” the News-Time article said, “the information can now be restored to what it was before the hack happened. They could then “patch the problem that caused the hack to happen in the first place.”
And those annoying password requirements actually do have a good reason for making you include a period or exclamation point. They make it harder for brute force attacks where a hacker or program tries to guess passwords over and over until they get the right one. (Password1! Is still a bad password.)
Other areas include updating antivirus softwares, and having computers set to go to sleep after a short period.
As towns begin to increase their cyber footprint, bringing more and more features to their website, and making more and more documents digital, there is a growing need to keep these practices safe. While there are loads that are being done on the back end by IT departments in municipalities across the state, sometimes the best practices are some of the easiest, and that way computers will continue to be our assistants and not a possible threat.