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The Source, by McCain

Cybersecurity: Tips & Tricks to Keep your Agency Safe

Cities are becoming smarter every day, deploying new technologies to improve mobility, efficiency, and reduce emissions. New technologies in traffic are allowing us to troubleshoot a non-working traffic light, change signal timing on demand, and overall provide better ways to manage traffic. But with every new technology comes a new set of challenges, and cybersecurity is at the top of the list when it comes to traffic.

As more devices become connected, the risk of a cyberattack grows. And it’s not just the future we need to be thinking of when it comes to security. There are measures that you should be adopting right now to protect yourself and your agency. 

Getting Back to the Basics
Cyberattacks can cause mayhem to cities, especially when systems are not secure. It may be surprising to learn however, that they are usually able to breach a system due to human error. Take one agency in Illinois who made the mistake of leaving an employee in the system who no longer worked there. A hacker was able to change the former employee's password and hack into the system, costing the city more than $670,000. This agency is not alone in making these small, but costly mistakes. Many people simply don’t ever change their default passwords, or utilize passwords that are easily guessed and used across multiple programs and applications. One of the easiest ways to breach a system is by obtaining or cracking a password. In fact, stolen passwords account for 75% of the 4,000 cyberattacks that happen daily.

One of the easiest ways to protect your system is to enforce team members to utilize strong passwords and to change them regularly.


Knowledge is Power
As the old saying goes, “the more you know,” and that could not be a more apt statement when it comes to cybersecurity. It is imperative for your agency and its personnel to be aware of what threats exist and how to combat them. Educate all employees of the risks and what to do if they suspect a breach.

Phishing scams are a common form of attack often sent by email. Phishing is an attempt to obtain passwords, usernames, and other sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy source. These scams often contain ransomware, a malicious software that can take over your computer and encrypt its files, demanding payment for the decryption key. These types of attacks could cost companies millions of dollars to restore and could be particularly dangerous if cities are hit. An attack could not only cause congestion and confusion, it could hamper emergency services, cause physical harm, and bring negative press to the city.

Tips for Identifying Suspicious Emails

  • Grammatical errors
  • Long and often unintelligible links  
  • Generic non-personalized greeting

How to React

  • Never open any email or click on any link that looks suspicious
  • Contact your IT department - better safe than sorry
  • Contact the person or entity that sent you the email, by phone to verify integrity

Be Proactive

The ISC (Information Systems Center) Foundation reported that 62% of organizations do not have an adequate amount of security professionals employed. So, as the next chapter in traffic unfolds with CV and smart cities, your agency may want to consider including partners and/or consultants in the procurement and set up of new equipment.

In the meantime, you should be engaging your IT department to ensure that your agency is protected and prepared if an attack happens. Employ your team to:

  • Run updates and patches on all software
  • Self-assessments and tests on your equipment to eliminate scenarios in which an attack may happen

As with most criminals, hackers tend to go for the low-hanging fruit, a company that is not well protected against them. The more knowledge your entire team has, and the more preparation you put into protecting your agency, the less likely it is that you will face an attack. And if one does happen, your team will be well equipped to shut it down as quickly as possible, minimizing the damage.

For more tips and tricks to help you identify threats and protect your network from cyber criminals and attacks, register for McCain’s Cybersecurity Webinar.


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