Despite the threats and dangers of computer hacking, efforts by local governments to protect their computer systems and databases from cyberattacks often pale when compared to actions taken to protect citizens from physical threats or to provide critical services. Like corporations, city and county governments must begin to treat cyberattacks and online security threats with the same urgency they do with other critical functions. The increasing centrality of the use of technology to deliver core services both comes with significant benefits and risks. And, globally, as the cyber threat landscape continues to worsen, city and county governments are increasingly finding themselves a target.
Cities and counties possess vast amounts of data about their residents, local businesses, and operations critical to local public health, safety, security and financial management. They also invest significantly in sophisticated computer systems and networks to manage the delivery of basic and emergency services. Yet when it comes to preventing a cyberattack on those systems, the attention of local policymakers is less focused and can wane rapidly, and little is done to improve the underlying infrastructure or security.