Cybersecurity concerns continue to make headlines, including the recent attacks at MedStar Health and fraudulent tax returns being filed for Baltimore City employees. In response to this, many local governments, like their counterparts in the private sector, are taking steps to protect their websites and information.
UMBC’s School of Public Policy hosted a forum on “Cybersecurity Concerns in Local Governments” on Friday, April 15 to present research on cybersecurity initiatives in local governments in Maryland and to highlight the policy implications of these initiatives. The event was sponsored by the UMBC School of Public Policy, bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator, and the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity.
Speakers included School of Public Policy Professor and Director Donald Norris, Anupam Joshi, professor and chair of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE) and director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, Rob O’Connor, chief technology officer for Baltimore County, and Gayle Guilford, chief information security officer for Baltimore City.
Norris discussed cybersecurity challenges in local governments across the country based on his research. In 2013, along with Joshi, he convened a focus group of technology officers from around Maryland to identify challenges and what governments are doing to help prevent cyber attacks.
“It was fascinating, because in part, we went in thinking cybersecurity is a technology problem and that the technology would fix itself,” Norris explained. “But people, policy, and process in government and large organizations are almost always the problem.”
Norris found that technology professionals in government identified people as the weakest link in cybersecurity threats because of phishing emails, lack of user training, under enforced and inefficient policies, and lack of funding to deal with cybersecurity threats.
To further research constantly evolving cybersecurity challenges in local government, Norris and his colleagues developed a questionnaire which will be conducted through the International City and County Management Association (ICMA) for city and county governments with populations greater than 50,000 around the country. They anticipate receiving the results this summer.