Cybersecurity Warning For Public Safety Agencies

Public safety agencies across the U.S. recently received the warning – you’re at risk of a cyberattack.

FirstWatch – a company that monitors public safety systems for attacks and unusual activities - sent out an email alert on January 29, 2022, that cyberattacks against 911 centers, local governments, and medical facilities are ongoing and on the rise. The alert urges public safety agencies to immediately start working with their IT departments to ensure the safety and security of their systems. FirstWatch told the EMS One-Stop Podcast it took the unusual step of issuing an alert because they saw attacks go up by 35-40% than normal but also stay up over the course of 10 days.

Earlier in January, the FBI also issued an advisory regarding attacks coming from Russia and asked cybersecurity experts to be prepared. CNN reported two cyberattacks forced public schools in Albuquerque, NM to close and knocked out cameras at a local jail in January. But attacks against 911 and other local government systems are not new.

  • In April 2020, ransomware hit the 911 center in Lawrence County, Tennessee.  The operations manager told WKRN-TV he noticed within minutes that files were encrypted and received a message from overseas with instructions on how to unlock them. The cyberattack didn’t affect radios or phone communications but it did knock down the computer-aided dispatch system (CAD). Dispatchers had to do manual logging and reporting.
  • Also in 2020, the city of Durham, North Carolina was hit by a ransomware attack that took 80 servers offline and forced the city to take down its phone system. Because the city and county share some resources, the malware got into both networks, including the 911 PSAP systems. According to FirstWatch, “911, EMS, fire-rescue, Sheriff, and police were back to having to do manual dispatching and paper logs and reports."

Many experts believe, it’s just a matter of time before your system will be hit but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless.

It all starts by being prepared, able to detect an attack, and ready to respond.

Now is the time to reinforce your security strategy and Voice Products has the solutions and the expertise to help you identify your risk, and create processes to protect your assets and data.

Tight cybersecurity procedures must be constant and should extend beyond prevention. Here are a few steps your procedures should include:

  • Detection

          You must have a process that continuously and actively searches for threats. To do so, you need a team that monitors and analyzes your systems and data 24/7. 

  • Quick Action

          Time is critical when a threat is active, so your security procedure should have a way to close the breach window as quickly as possible to prevent damage from spreading. 

  • Threat Remediation

           Your team and your managed service provider should know what to do on your behalf when a security breach happens. That means you must already have a plan in place that they can quickly follow. 

Voice Products can connect you with the right team for your agency or business.  Contact us now to review your security and learn how to create a plan.

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