Protecting the home front: Cities battle to keep computer systems safe from cyberattack

Protecting the home front: Cities battle to keep computer systems safe from cyberattack

June 1, 20232 min read

Hackers continue to make more frequent and sophisticated attempts to infiltrate municipalities and government computer systems. In the past few months, Augusta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas, are among the cities that have experienced system breaches. Some of the unauthorized access is caused by employees simply clicking on a wrong link, while others are premeditated attempts to steal data through the breach.

They aren’t easy to defend, but everyone, including individuals, governments and businesses, must be vigilant when it comes to protocols and security.

Michael Nowatkowski is the head of the cyber program of study in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Augusta University and knows there are a lot of bad actors out there.

“There’s potential, if they are able to get onto your system, that it would be something like ransomware, where they would prevent you from using your data,” said Nowatkowski.

He added it might not be just for monetary gain. They could simply eavesdrop and collect data without anyone’s knowledge.

“You want to find them as quickly as possible so they can’t perform these malicious activities or sit in a dormant state just collecting data for a long period of time,” he added.

When it comes to attacks on cities, Nowatkowski said the bad actors may just want to discredit the city or agency by defacing their web pages. In other cases, they may force a ransomware attack to get money out of the city to re-access the data.

He added it’s a challenge to prepare and defend for the attacks, as you never know what the attack vector is going to be.

“For cities to defend, they always have to be vigilant. They should try to encourage their users to use the systems responsibly. User education is a very big step and is a proactive step in defending your networks,” said Nowatkowski.

He also said if an attack did happen, it’s important to look for ways to prevent future attacks, try to figure out the root cause of how the attack happened and put measures into place to prevent them from happening in the future. This may include having a third party conduct an assessment of the network to look for vulnerabilities.

If you’re a journalist look to know more or have been assigned to cover any aspect of cybersecurity in the nation, then let our experts help with your coverage.

Dr. Michael Nowatkowski is an associate professor with the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Augusta University. He also serves as the head of the cyber program of study. Nowatkowski is available to speak with media regarding the emerging threat of cybersecurity in America. Simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.

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  • Michael Nowatkowski, PhD
    Michael Nowatkowski, PhD Associate Professor

    A leading cybersecurity expert available to discuss online security, ransomware, and device security topics.

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