Cities and counties across the country and in North Carolina are tempting targets for ransomware attacks that block access to computer systems until the hacker receives money. More attacks on governments have been reported in North Carolina this year than over the past three years combined, although it is not clear whether this is a question of more attacks or better reporting, and there have been no reports of governments paying a ransom. Either way, the threat remains and the state Department of Information and Technology (DIT) and the Department of Public Safety have put together a team to help local governments prepare for and prevent attacks.

“The big targets have been municipalities and local governmentsbecause they tend to have lower IT budgets than they should,” Avi Rubin, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University and technical director of the Information Security Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. A few tips

All employees need reminders how to stay safe and deal with suspicious activity. Government employees are not immune to clicking links in emails that look like they come from a colleague.

Every computer in a network needs good malware/anti-virus software that is regularly updated.

Resources and planning are essential. Smaller local governments are stretched as it is. One solution could be for them to leverage the IT departments of larger cities, counties, or even the state’s DIT. This is an increasingly important question for local government finances and state policy