Cyber security policy adopted by Casco

With recent news stories about U.S. hospitals and police stations being the victims of computer hackers who demand ransoms to bring computers back online, there is no time like the present to be proactive.

In February, a hospital in Hollywood paid $17,000 to a hacker who held its computer system for ransom. Just a few weeks ago, a hospital chain in Washington, D.C., and in Maryland, was victim to computer hackers.

Closer to home, several police stations in Maine towns paid between $500 and $700 to regain control of the computer systems before any damage was done.

Typically, the hackers request a payment in “bitcoins” deposited into reportedly untraceable accounts. Once a ransom is paid, the entity paying the ransom is given a decryption key.

Recently, the Town of Casco adopted a written cyber security policy.

Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said he attended a workshop on cyber security. The workshop was offered by the Maine Municipal Association (MMA).

What is better than providing information about how to stay ahead of the hackers?

The answer to that query: Insurance to cover the cost of a computer takeover.

And MMA offers just that: Cyber security liablity insurance.

According to Morton, one the conditions of the MMA insurance policy is adopting a cybernet security policy.

“MMA provided the framework,” he said.

“We had an informal policy. We explained the rules as people came to work for the town,” he said.

It was natural step for the town to adopt a written policy for cyber security, Morton said.

The board of selectmen “has gravitated toward more formal, written policies” to replace outdated or unwritten policies, he said.

Basically, one rule of thumb has always been that the staff are not allowed to use the town hall’s Internet service for personal use — even during their break times.

“We don’t allow Internet access to the public,” he said.

When the new Town Office is built sometime this year, WiFi could be listed as one of the amenties.

In the new town hall, the computer system will be set up so that town office information is only accessible on one highly-secure Internet system. Another separate Wireless Fidelity, Wireless Internet (WiFi) will be set up for the geneneral public, Morton said.

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