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House panel floats new cybersecurity grants for state and local governments

June 26, 2019

As ransomware incidents against state and local governments continue to pile up, officials would likely leap at increased federal assistance for their cybersecurity needs, witnesses at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing said Tuesday.

Cyberattacks can be costly to local governments, whether they replace and rebuild compromised computer systems or pay off a ransom demand, as Riviera City, Florida, did last week when it forked over $600,000 to hackers who successfully infected the 35,000-person municipality with ransomware. In many cases, local governments are simply unprepared to repel sophisticated malware capable of encrypting files and deactivating digital government services.

And major cities can be just as vulnerable as the small ones, as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said when she recounted for lawmakers the March 2018 ransomware attack against her city, which disabled government functions ranging from court scheduling to utility-bill payments to police dashboard-camera footage.

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