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COVID-19's gift to ransomware

Emptying out government offices during the COVID-19 pandemic has had the side effect of greatly expanding the potential attack surface for ransomware by introducing countless home Wi-Fi networks and personal devices into agency networks, state-government cybersecurity officials said Wednesday. “We’re now adding hundreds of unknown networks,” Colorado CISO Deborah Blyth said during CrowdStrike’s Fal.Con for Public Sector Conference, produced by FedScoop and CyberScoop. “The security framework for remote devices has to be able to reach those devices outside your network, off your [virtual private network]." At least 11 state or local government agencies have endured attacks since the start of the pandemic, according to <a href="https://preprod.statescoop.com/ransomware-map/">StateScoop’s ransomware research</a>. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Wash your hands, wear a mask, practice cyber-hygiene

Later during Crowdstrike event, Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers said that when Gov. Mike DeWine gave the order for most of the state's 51,000 employees to work from home, one of the first things they were all required to do was go through the state-mandated cybersecurity trainings. "Even if they had just taken them," Rodgers said. He added that those instructions on cyber-hygiene, like detecting phishing links and employing multi-factor authentication, have been pushed downstream, through the state's CyberOhio initiative, to local governments and the private sector. "We’re pushing those trainings not only to government agencies, local counties, but we’re also sharing with the small businesses,” he said. “It’s everyone’s, not just IT’s, burden to bear.” Ben has more.

Come on, guys

The Federal Communications Commission will vote on implementing a new, more accurate data collection method at its public meeting on July 16, but along party lines, the commissioners still disagree on whether to disperse billions of dollars based on inaccurate coverage data upon the agency’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction in October. At a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing yesterday, the agency’s two most vocal commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Chairman Ajit Pai, once again sparred over whether to collect more accurate data before dispersing the fund's first $16 billion tranche. "The problem is that one week before the [presidential] election, we are poised to give out $16 billion based on maps that we know are wrong," Rosenworcel said. Ryan Johnston reports.

Voter registration databases need some love too

The expansion of absentee and mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic “shifts the risk towards voter registration data security,” Matt Masterson, senior adviser at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Wednesday during the Crowdstrike conference, CyberScoop's Sean Lyngaas writes. People voting by mail generally won’t have access to the same provisional-balloting process that those voting in person can use if they’ve been left off of voter rolls due to an administrative error. That makes the integrity of voter registration data all the more important in the era of COVID-19, Masterson said. “2020 was always going to be a challenging year for them with the preparations they were making to secure their systems — just the high intensity of a presidential election, he said. "And then you introduce a pandemic into it.” Read more on CyberScoop.


Remote Workforce — A StateScoop & EdScoop Special Report

Amid the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, government and universities made the rapid transition to telework. Now, as those same entities look toward whatever the future holds, remote work might just be here to stay. In this report, StateScoop and EdScoop reporters explore how government agencies have maintained resiliency, highlight CIO takeaways from the pandemic and look at how governments and universities will move forward. See the full report.

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