Local governments are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than ever before. DHS wants mayors to step up.
Tatyana Bolton, a former senior CISA official, said the agency has been trying since its inception to push local, state and federal officials to adopt stronger cybersecurity measures.
“I think the critical new piece here is that Jen Easterly has committed a billion dollars to this effort. That’s a huge amount of money, and that will make a significant difference,” said Bolton, who also served as senior policy director for the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a government-wide effort to reform U.S. approaches to cybersecurity.
“But I think we also have to get across this broader cultural message that cybersecurity isn’t your last priority, it should be your one of your first priorities” as a local government leader, Bolton told USA TODAY. She said high-profile ransomware attacks like Oldsmar and last year’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline and JBS food processing company occurred because their systems were vulnerable – and hackers knew it.
“A lot of these hacks happen because employees aren’t paying attention,” said Bolton. “And that’s an issue of training, which I think, again, goes to what Jen Easterly is trying to address – the cyber hygiene problems, the things that if we all do together could literally stop more than 80% of cybersecurity attacks.”