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Keeping Critical Data Safe in State and Local Government

Ransomware has quickly emerged as one of the biggest cybersecurity threats facing state and local government agencies. Numerous government entities have been victims of attacks over the past few years, and these incidents are notoriously costly. Taking simple steps to mitigate risk can help government agencies secure mission-critical IT infrastructure and protect constituent data.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware falls under the umbrella of malware in which a malicious attacker gains access to sensitive data, and then encrypts or hijacks the data files and demands a payment in order for you to regain access to those files. Ransomware can be installed by Trojan horse software or downloaded when visiting a malicious website. As we’ve seen in recent years, industries of all kinds are susceptible to ransomware. From petroleum to the meat industry to education, no sector has been left unscathed.

Ransomware attacks on government agencies are not a new phenomenon. For years, cyber criminals have been using tactics like phishing emails to gain access, steal data, lock computer systems and demand ransoms from public sector organizations. If the organization doesn’t comply, attackers threaten to release private data publicly. Holding critical data for ransom is a lucrative business and attacks are on the rise.

State and Local entities become the target of threats during unprecedented times

While ransomware can affect any industry or organization, the onset of the global pandemic caught many state and local organizations unprepared to support employees and contractors working from home. Without a secure infrastructure in place for remote access to systems and data, many were vulnerable to ransomware attacks. In the last couple of years, victims have included the Baltimore school district, the NYPD fingerprint database, and the State of Texas. Often, these types of government agencies have few resources or the funding to protect themselves and their constituents’ data from ransomware attacks and that makes them easy targets. Elementary school districts have been particularly hard hit.

For example, in December 2020, federal law enforcement received an uptick in reports of ransomware attacks against K-12 educational institutions. In these attacks, malicious cyber actors successfully targeted school computer systems, slowing access, and often making the systems inaccessible to administrators, teachers and students for basic functions like distance learning. 

Mitigating Ransomware Attacks in the Public Sector with Qumulo

Mitigating threats is the key to ensuring the continuity of government operations. A robust backup and data recovery plan, as part of a disaster recovery strategy, will help eliminate downtime from ransomware attacks as well as natural disasters. Creating an effective strategy to combat ransomware needs to be a high priority for state and local government agencies. 

IT departments can take advantage of the data protection capabilities in Recover Q, as part of a holistic security strategy to help ensure data safety and integrity. You can use the built-in snapshot and cloud replication features to add layers of defense against real-world threats that could compromise data needed for day-to-day operations or compliance with data privacy regulations.

Here are six easy steps state and local government agencies can take to mitigate the probability of a ransomware attack and improve their chances of recovering from one:

  1. Defend: If you make it difficult for attackers, there’s a good chance they’ll move on before getting anywhere. Secure access to your systems and ensure security measures are in place and followed.
  2. Detect: Always be on the lookout for suspicious activity and inconsistent activity. Early detection is key -- the sooner you know, the sooner action can be taken before damage is done.
  3. Recover: Have a recovery plan in place. If something happens, you can go back in time to recover recent data from a snapshot or offsite backup.
  4. Resume: If a disaster occurs, your continuity plan will let you resume operations from an alternate site while issues at the primary site are resolved. And the cloud makes it cost-effective to set-up a remote site.
  5. Practice: Practice your plan. It’s likely a real event won’t be exactly the same, but at least your teams will be equipped to respond quickly and effectively.

To learn more, join us on December 9, 2021 at 2 PM EDT, 11 AM PDT for Qombating Ransomware--Strategies to Mitigate Risks in Government

Tune in with the Qumulo team to discuss how a multi-layered security strategy can protect and secure government infrastructures:

  • Prevention to reduce your agency’s risk surface 
  • Detection to discover and stop suspicious activities early 
  • Recovery and resumption to ensure business continuity
Qumulo is the leader in enterprise-proven hybrid cloud file storage and file services, providing real-time visibility, scale and control of your data across on-prem and the cloud. The Qumulo experience makes storage simple, with continuous new features, a single solution for all workloads, and access to customer success experts on your schedule.