Cash-strapped Main Street organizations face global cyber threats


Diving Brief:

  • Small businesses and local government agencies face significant risks from ransomware and other malicious cyberattacks, federal and state officials warned Tuesday during an on-the-ground hearing in Michigan before the House subcommittee. on intelligence and the fight against terrorism.
  • Threat actors have launched ransomware and other cyberattacks against Michigan school districts, colleges, small towns and businesses in recent years. US Secret Service agents in the Detroit Field Office recently recovered nearly $5 million following an investigation into commercial email compromise, according to written testimony from Department of Homeland Security officials.
  • Subcommittee chair Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said hackers target servers in the state of Michigan more than 90 million times a day, citing data from the CIO State.

Overview of the dive:

The hearing in East Lansing, Michigan was designed to drive home the significant cybersecurity risks facing small towns, county governments and main street businesses across the United States. While Michigan was the center of attention, her testimony is an example of the cyberattacks organizations are seeing across the country. .

Unlike Colonial Pipeline or JBS USA, many state and local organizations lack the funding or personnel to staff their own security operations center. It’s also expensive to hire a sophisticated incident response team and maintain a 24/7 security operation that can protect critical data.

“No matter how big of an organization you are, the slightest cyber vulnerability can be detrimental,” said Iranga Kahangama, assistant secretary, cyber, infrastructure, risk policy and resilience at the Office of DHS strategy, policy and plans.

Kahangama has been a key figure in the federal response to ransomware attacks on Colonial, one of the nation’s major fuel distributors, and JBS, one of the largest meat suppliers in the United States.

The hearing was also designed to alert small business and local government officials to resources available from federal and state government agencies that can help mitigate and respond to sophisticated attacks.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has advisers in nearly every US state, including two in the state of Michigan, CISA Deputy Executive Assistant Director Matt Hartman said during the hearing.

Hartman outlined four basic security measures that every organization should implement to protect sensitive data from ransomware and other cyberattacks:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication
  • Maintain offline encrypted backups
  • Create an incident response plan
  • Report cybersecurity incidents to CISA (or the FBI)
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