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Stepping up the ransomware fight

Coming off another year in which ransomware actors battered local government networks, CISA Acting Director Brandon Wales announced yesterday that the agency is stepping up its efforts to help schools, health organizations and other frequent targets raise their defenses. Speaking at an online event hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Wales said CISA plans to more aggressively promote the documents and other resources it uses to counter ransomware incidents, especially those involving K-12 systems and hospitals, which he said "have the unenviable role right now of being so indispensable and so vulnerable" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Transparency, faster

The office of Utah State Auditor John Dougall yesterday announced a major overhaul to a statewide financial transparency portal. The upgrades, which were rolled out quietly last June but only announced recently, include a move to a new, faster platform based on Google Analytics tools, a search function and expanded access to the state’s raw data files. “Over the years it had gotten bigger and bigger with more data and more government agencies in there and it had become really slow,” Dougall said. The new site includes search functions for both public employee salaries and payments to government vendors. Colin Wood has details.

Hassan previews cyber coordinator program

Speaking to a National Governors Association conference on cybersecurity yesterday, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said a new federal program placing DHS-employed cybersecurity advisers in every state will help close gaps between federal authorities and state and local entities when it comes to responding to information security threats. “While we work to combat large-scale threats at the federal level, we have to strengthen cybersecurity throughout our society,” she said. “If an American city or health care system can’t function because of a cyberattack, then that’s an attack on the security all of us." Ben has more.

How a small-town police department overcame its GIS challenge

To ensure its 911 dispatchers wouldn’t need to rely on Google Maps when directing first responders to emergencies, the Radcliff, Kentucky, Police Department recently underwent an arcane but critical upgrade to its data systems. The city last fall hired GeoComm, a company specializing in geographic information systems for public safety, to update its mapping platform, ensuring that dispatchers have an accurate and complete accounting of the city’s roadways. Previously, dispatchers could sometimes be forced to resort consulting Google Maps an Excel spreadsheet if the data hadn’t been integrated into the city’s dispatching software. Colin has the story.

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