WASHINGTON (May 10, 2021)—In a new policy study, R Street Senior Fellow John Bansemer, R Street Associate Fellow Greg Rattray and R Street Research Assistant Franklin Lee evaluated the challenges associated with improving state and local responses to cyber attacks. This study leverages existing reports; interviews with defenders at the state and municipal level; experts studying these challenges; and workshops conducted in conjunction with the New York Cyber Task Force.

The authors find that ransomware attacks are becoming more complex and targeted. However, data show that responses are improving despite increasing attacks and an expanding number of targets. That said, these positive trends highlight how state and local organizations should increase their vigilance and add protective measures—a lack of ransomware attacks does not mean that there are no vulnerabilities.

Various activities and exercises may help prevent ransomware attacks. For example, table-top exercises provide opportunities for organizations to better understand their vulnerabilities before external actors utilize them to attack their systems.

“Of course, there is a need for efficiency in cyber investment coupled with the fiscal constraints that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 responses. Yet, building digital resilience will prove an essential element of our society’s ability to recover and move forward. Strengthening state and local cyber responses is an opportunity for smart investment now to avoid estimable risk and even catastrophes in the future,” said Bansemer, Rattray and Lee.

Read the full paper here.