City officials updated on cybersecurity | Local News | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

CUMBERLAND — Some of the city’s most valuable resources including drinking water face an ongoing threat from outside attackers.

Cumberland Cybersecurity Specialist Chip Watkins was at a work session Tuesday to provide the mayor and City Council an update on protections for various systems.

October is national Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Watkins talked of roughly 2,700 failed attempts in 24 hours by outsiders to log in to city accounts.

“It’s a constant barrage of attacks on the city,” he said.

Local governments are often targeted for information including blueprints, names, addresses, and credit card numbers, he said and talked of systems operated by municipalities such as emergency response.

“We have a lot of data,” Watkins said. “It’s getting much worse with the onset of (artificial intelligence).”

Cumberland established relationships with state and national cybersecurity organizations and completed various technological upgrades, he said.

But an audit of security for the city’s water systems shows the need for improvement, he said.

Additionally, some information technology policies should be developed, Watkins said.

“There’s still a lot out there to be done,” he said and added city employees and officials should be vigilant when using technology.

“Everybody is responsible,” Watkins said of protecting Cumberland’s digital data.

Attackers range from large companies dedicated to stealing information, to kids who want to see if they can hack into a system.

He talked of the need for state-of-the-art equipment to battle data theft.

“How do you really put a cost on reputation?” Watkins said.

Cumberland Director of Administrative Services Ken Tressler said the city will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for cybersecurity.

The global average cost of a single data breach is roughly $4.45 million.

Retired Cumberland Police Department officer David Biser, who works in the cybersecurity field for a Pittsburgh-based company, was also at the work session.

“They’re very tricky,” he said of cyber thieves and added data breaches happen “every single day.”

Teresa McMinn is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or [email protected].


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National Cyber Security