The Rise of Cyberattacks Towards Cities and Towns


As daily lives continue to migrate online, the dangers of hackers compromising personal information and shutting down critical services grow. Ransomware or data breach attacks can impair a network’s essential services and operations when a hacker demands a large payment while keeping the data of the government or a school hostage. The increasing frequency of cyberattacks towards cities and towns is alarming and should no longer be overlooked.

Why Are Attackers Focusing on Towns and Cities?

Schools, libraries, courts, and other government-owned institutions have all been targeted by hackers. Assaults like ransomware and data breach have increased because of how lucrative they can be for attackers, and small towns are an appealing target. In addition to a lack of resources, towns often deal with public funds and may choose to pay a ransom rather than attempt to retrieve their data in another manner.

Cities and municipalities hold sensitive information that local governments keep on their toes. The local legislative also has minimal finances, making it hard to allocate appropriate cybersecurity protections, tools, and training challenges. Cybersecurity is one area where towns should not cut corners. However, many people believe that the expense of acquiring sufficient cybersecurity is just too expensive for a municipality on a shoestring budget.

Another significant reason cyberattacks towards cities and towns keep growing is that cities are far behind the digital revolution. Many of the fundamental technologies that power their essential infrastructure have become obsolete. City governments often lack the expertise required to update their systems, and the best brains in technology seldom choose to work for cities, utilities, or airports. Hackers can also find multiple entry points because of organizational structures built long before cybersecurity became an urgent matter.


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How Hackers Infiltrate Town and Cities?

Hackers may access government servers and computers via several means. The most frequent of which being workers mistakenly opening phishing emails or hackers gaining access to workstations through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RDP is usually used by in-house or outsourced IT staff to get access to PCs for technical support.

When hackers obtain access and carry out their attack, computers usually display a message similar to the one below with instructions on opening a file from the desktop with further instructions. By then, there will be no other way to access the computer’s data. When a computer user clicks on the Notepad file, they are led to a set of instructions for downloading a TOR web browser and then navigating to a particular URL. Hackers will contact a town or city that chooses to pay a ransom payment via TOR so IT personnel cannot trace it.

Some towns opt to pay the ransom and unlock all of their data, fearing the implications of having their networks down for an extended period and wishing the nightmare to end. The economic consequences of such a cyberattack may be enormous. However, some people refuse to work with hackers. Those who do not comply are often confronted with the explicit threat that the stolen data and information will be made public on the hackers’ website.

The hackers then increase public pressure with news releases that include both warnings about what would happen to cities’ and businesses’ data if a ransom is not paid, as well as offers of assistance in the form of advice to avoid a recurrence.

Preemptive Ways to Mitigate Cyberattacks Towards Town and Cities

Leaders at the local and state levels must embrace a digital security mentality. That entails putting catastrophe and contingency plans in place before any cyberattacks towards cities and towns occur.

Have a Reliable Backup

Backups are the most effective method of avoiding corporate data loss or damage. Many cities and towns still do not have comprehensive backups in place. A local community is best protected against cyberattacks if you create regular backups. If thieves encrypt data, dedicated personnel can quickly restore it from the previous day’s backup.

Employee Training and Hiring Key Personnel

A crucial step to safeguarding a town is to educate employees. The majority of cyber breaches are the result of human mistakes. To safeguard a local government, there should be dedicated time to educate all workers about cybersecurity. Furthermore, it will be an excellent move to hire the appropriate people. To keep cities and towns secure in the future, public sector leaders must recruit the appropriate personnel, such as programmers, engineers, and cybersecurity specialists. The hiring of empowered information security professionals and continuous training and research is essential in keeping cybercriminals at bay.

Final Thoughts

Local governments are complicated, with numerous agencies servicing a wide range of citizens’ requirements while juggling competing objectives such as balancing the need to keep data secure while staying accessible. However, many cyberattacks toward cities and towns are straightforward and might be prevented with basic measures such as better cybersecurity awareness, two-factor authentication implementation, and hiring of key personnel.