Cybersecurity for Cities
The State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP) presents a unique opportunity for state and local governments to secure IT systems with the aid of federal grant money. Many cities across the United States are well-positioned to receive cybersecurity funding from this program.
This is good news for local governments that are scrambling to protect IT assets as the cybersecurity industry faces a “talent war” in an ongoing shortage of skilled professionals. Cities that need help assessing their current defenses and developing future security plans should consider engaging industry partners like Securance for grant support.
Many cities have already had to contend with significant operational disruptions from cyber attacks. In a recent survey by the Journal of Urban Affairs, 28 percent of local governments reported hourly attacks, and 19 percent reported attacks at least once daily. Additionally, a focus group within that study found that all participating governments said their organizations faced constant cyber attacks.
Protecting cities from ransomware and emerging threats is vital to the security, reliability, and availability of critical infrastructure systems. Every small town and big city play a crucial role in uniting with other levels of government and industry partners to improve the cybersecurity of our increasingly interconnected systems. Still, fewer than half of government officials (48 percent) reported that their cities had adopted cybersecurity policies and standards. Only 46 percent had performed a cybersecurity risk assessment, and just 22 percent had a cyberattack response plan.
Fortunately, the SLCGP will help local governments address cyber risks. Here is what cities need to know.
Cities Require Cybersecurity Funding
City IT leaders have long been aware of their cybersecurity risks and budgetary challenges. As news of a $1 billion federal cybersecurity grant program included in the infrastructure law was released last January, Pew reported that many smaller cities and counties worried that they will miss out on grant money from their state because they do not have the knowledge and the planning to put together a proposal. Cities that partner with Securance to create the Investment Justification required to qualify for the SLGCP will benefit from our expertise in identifying security gaps, prioritizing remediation approaches, and meeting federal and state grant requirements.
Cybersecurity Is in Demand
Despite the opportunity to obtain funding through programs like the SLCGP, cybersecurity talent is scarce in many regions. The cybersecurity industry is currently around 2.7 million professionals short. Recruiting and training the next generation of cyber professionals is top of mind for many industries. Likewise, cities will benefit by investing in their futures by supporting local cybersecurity training programs. In the meantime, solid relationships with industry partners are critical.
Cybersecurity is a Process
Cybersecurity is a continuous journey. Specifically, a city’s strategy to detect and respond to risks and incidents must adapt as quickly as threats evolve. Ongoing assessments, cyber incident response plans, and frameworks like the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework can play an essential role in improving security. City leaders who align with their IT teams to stay informed about cyber risks and their potential impacts have the most long-term success.
Cities Need Ongoing Cybersecurity Partnerships
Cities strategically form partnerships to prepare for everything from hurricane disaster recovery to severe snow removal. They must also develop cybersecurity partnerships to pursue grant opportunities, ensure the success of IT risk and compliance management efforts, respond to incidents, and more.