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Protect Your City or County From a Data Breach

It’s not only businesses that experience digital security breaches. Local governments do, too. Large cities like Atlanta and Baltimore have been hit with cyber attacks in recent years. How can you protect your city or county from a data breach? Keep reading to find out.

The Importance of Digital Security

Digital security is important for everyone these days. Even everyday citizens should lock down personal accounts to ensure information stays safe. Many companies have learned the hard way that a weakness in their digital security can lead to harmful breaches. They may have firewalls and other security measure put into place by technology professionals, but the problem is, most security breaches are caused by employees themselves. The same is true for city and county governments.

Breaches Cause Lower Revenue

Ransomware and other types of viruses may disable your ability to accept online payments. This will significantly lower your municipalities revenue. If the system is down for a longer amount of time, this could affect the city’s ability to function. They are also costly to recover from. The average cost of a cyberattack is anywhere from $1.4 million to $13 million.

Breaches Take Down Case Management Systems (CMS)

Many towns, cities, and counties use CMS for tracking all sorts of cases. They may be court appearances, social work cases or parking tickets. When this system is down, mayhem may ensue. It may cause citizens to miss appointments or lack access to important services.

Types of Breaches

Phishing

Scammers love phishing because all they have to do is send out an email or an instant message. There is not much hacking involved like in the movies. When a phisher sends an email to your organization or a team member, they pretend to be someone from the bank, the insurance company or even someone from within your organization. They try to get the recipient to give them sensitive information like a password, PIN or bank account number. All it takes is one person in your office to fall for a phishing attempt, giving access to a bank account, digital database or other sensitive information.

Ransomware

You can get ransomware by clicking on the wrong link or opening an attachment in a suspicious email. Hackers get people to click on these links much in the same way that phishing works. They make it seem like a trustworthy situation, but the result is anything but that. During a ransomware infection, hackers hold your information or access to your systems hostage until you send them a large payment, usually via Bitcoin.

Spyware

Spyware is malicious because you may not know it is there for quite a long time. The name is very self explanatory—it puts a secret program into your system that spies on it. It can give the voyeurs access to keystrokes, general activity, and other private information. Similar to ransomware, spyware is usually installed due to someone clicking on a link or downloading an attachment.

How to Prevent Data Breaches

There are many steps you can take to prevent a breach in your city or county. This isn’t a definitive list of tips, but an important one. This list focuses on making sure your employees won’t be the source of a breach because they are the most likely cause.

Update Passwords Regularly

No more using Password123 as your password. These types of passwords are easy to crack. Not only should you use complex passwords with varying combinations of numbers, capital and lower-case letters, and symbols, but experts also recommend updating passwords every 1-6 months.

Educate Employees

Educating your teams about the different types of breaches and how to avoid them is key. There are great online and in-person programs for this purpose. Since most breaches start with a mistake made by someone inside the organization, this is probably the most important thing you could do! Check out ThreatAdvice.com, a cyber education and awareness platform that will help you to understand the vulnerabilities and risks your business faces and will arm you and your employees with the knowledge and tools to protect your organization.

Work with Experts

IT professionals are experts in the field of technology. Hiring the right IT person can help improve your organization’s digital security. That way, you and the other members of your organization can focus on what you do best. Not everyone can be a technology expert, and you don’t have to be when you hire an expert.

Use the Right eGovernment Platforms

FivePoint is a great example of a credit card processing company that works with local governments to provide secure transactions. We are compliant with The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and do everything in our power to protect customer data. Working with the right partners who value security as much as you do helps avoid breaches.

Don’t become the next city, town, or county to end up in the news due to a major security breach. Follow these tips and keep reading here for more topics on digital and payment security.

Photo credit: Threat Post

 

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FivePoint Payments simplifies and modernizes the process of paying government agency fees and fines, making it more efficient for both the payee and the payer. We do this through innovative software applications and hardware solutions that can be integrated with government agencies’ current systems.

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