Cybersecurity Resilience for your Municipality
The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA’s legal services or your municipal attorney.
Operational technology (OT) security is crucial for local government because modern counties, cities and towns rely heavily on a complex network of interconnected systems and devices that are powered by OT. These systems include everything from traffic lights, public transportation, and energy grids to water treatment plants, emergency response systems, and more.
If these systems are compromised by cyberattacks or other security breaches, it could lead to serious consequences for public safety, public health, and the economy. For example, an attack on a city's transportation system could lead to widespread disruptions and chaos on the roads, while an attack on the water treatment plant could compromise the quality and safety of the city's water supply.
As the attack surface continues to expand, local governments need to become more proactive to protect critical infrastructure in order to ensure citizens are safe. It’s a challenge to local governments which tend to be resource constrained. But there are ways to overcome some of these resource challenges. First, governments can partner with private companies to help bridge the skills gap. Whether it be through threat intelligence sharing, training, technology or managed services. It’s also vital that local governments consider federal funding available via Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and other grant programs.
IIJA is often viewed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in roads, bridges, dams, water/wastewater, broadband and more. The convergence of IT and OT require that investments in infrastructure must incorporate cybersecurity in order to protect citizens.
According to a recent article by Jim Richberg, Public Sector Field CISO for Fortinet, “Resilient cybersecurity is needed to defend infrastructures against threats to OT and IT systems. Otherwise, the growing interconnectedness of infrastructures leaves us all more vulnerable to cascading failures that can quickly spread across multiple sectors and regions. Clearly, investing in cybersecurity to protect America’s infrastructure must be a high-priority requirement in any project’s plans, especially in our hyperconnected world.”
For more information about how to better plan for cybersecurity with infrastructure investments, tune in to hear an interview with CyberScoop’s Wyatt Kash interview Jim Richberg. The two discuss the increased need for sharing threat intelligence, and steps you should consider as the wave of federal infrastructure funding begins flowing to local officials.
With proper planning and strong partnerships with the private sector, local governments can move forward with confidence that they are helping to make stronger and safer infrastructure for New Hampshire.