Funding is disbursed for cybersecurity efforts across all government jurisdictions
Cybersecurity, cyber breaches, attack agents, global threats – these words scare IT professionals across the country. All the media remind us, however, that these words are a wake-up call for citizens, taxpayers, non-profit organizations and private sector companies. Cyberattacks are extremely dangerous and happen almost every day somewhere in America.
Cyberattacks are growing in scope, severity and frequency. They are extremely costly and debilitating for business and government. A simple hack into a technology network can trap people in high-rise buildings, disable power grids, disrupt public safety operations, and shut down medical centers and/or shut down critical operations in any city, district school or government agency. Such violations create costly chaos and threaten public safety.
The need for enhanced cybersecurity is particularly critical today due to political unrest across the globe…and public entities are prime targets. Federal funding will continue to flow to states, cities, counties, public schools, universities and medical centers, but as the immediate danger increases, other sources of funding are also being deployed to improve technology networks in all the countries.
As sad as it sounds, it’s important to understand that even simple ransomware attacks can make cybercriminals millionaires. This threat will not be easy to defeat. The new bipartisan Infrastructure Act as well as the American Rescue Plan Act have allocated public funds to cybersecurity efforts, but public entities to date have not acted as quickly as most consider prudent. It seems to be changing.
Minnesota state officials will spend $14.5 million to create a cloud-based network for agencies. An enterprise cloud transformation project will allow agencies to significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks. About another $20 million will be spent to modernize state technology systems. Old technology is much more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
A January ransomware attack on the Albuquerque Public School System, New Mexico’s largest school district, shut down the school district. This violation struck fear into other school districts and caught the attention of state leaders. Lawmakers recently proposed a $45 million bipartisan bill to create a new K-12 cybersecurity program.
In South Carolina, the city of Beaumont will dedicate part of its $6.7 million federal allocation to projects aimed at improving cybersecurity protection. Just a few weeks ago, the city council approved the expenditure of approximately $11.5 million to kick off the upgrade.
The federal funding will be used in Montcalm County, Michigan to purchase more advanced cybersecurity protection. Planning is underway, but soon solicitations for enhanced cybersecurity protection at the County Court Complex, Sheriff’s Office, Jail, and Central Dispatch and Emergency Medical Services facility will be announced.
City leaders in Williamsburg, Va., will use federal funding to strengthen network protections for computing and data infrastructure. A budget of $275,000 will finance the first improvements. However, plans are underway to increase cybersecurity protections for data recovery, server software, firewall protection, and other cybersecurity implementations. The plan’s approval comes in the wake of a December 2021 ransomware attack on the state’s IT infrastructure that stalled the opening session of the 2022 Virginia General Assembly.
Following a 2021 cyberattack on a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, St. Petersburg city leaders announced $600,000 would be spent to prevent similar cyber breaches in that city. City leaders will strengthen cybersecurity protection in a series of water infrastructure facilities.
City leaders in Port St. Lucie, Fla., have launched an effort to fill the gaps in the city’s existing vulnerabilities. A strategic plan highlights several high priority projects. Once funding is secured, projects to improve the city’s overall cybersecurity posture will begin. Some of the immediate goals will include improved endpoint security protection, an improved key card access control system, and the construction of a new virtual security operations center.
Officials in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) are also concerned about their water infrastructure and will launch new efforts to better protect their networks. Over the next two years, MWD will continue to consolidate cybersecurity initiatives within its new Security Operations Center and conduct assessments to detect vulnerabilities in networks across the region. Once the assessments are completed, protection improvement projects will be initiated. Another MWD project includes an $8.8 million data center modernization project that will focus on cybersecurity.
The governor of Minnesota has recommended spending $4 million to improve the protection of state networks. This will be accomplished through a number of projects that will take place over the next few years. One of the initiatives will address cybersecurity gaps within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s data infrastructure. New funding will enable the agency to upgrade protection technology related to data infrastructure, data storage, disaster recovery and management data.
Enhancements to protect the country’s technology networks will be developed and implemented over the next few years. Cybersecurity assessments are usually the first visible indication of upcoming projects, but it would be hard to find a public entity in the United States that wasn’t about to embark on cybersecurity improvement efforts. Many of the upcoming cybersecurity projects will also include major technology modernization initiatives.
There is no doubt that cyberattacks are dreaded threats that will continue to come under scrutiny.