You wouldn’t think that cybercriminals would be brave or bold enough to attack police departments with ransomware, but it happens far more frequently than anyone outside of the IT security world would ever assume.
In fact, the rate of cybersecurity attacks on police departments worldwide continues to climb ever higher on an annual basis.
It’s critically important that police departments are taking the necessary steps to secure and protect their IT infrastructure and their valuable data from ransomware. Here is a list of cybersecurity tips that police departments can implement to help keep their data safe.
Train the Department on Best Use Security Practices
The world’s most advanced cybersecurity software isn’t going to mean much at all if the people using the network throughout the police department don’t understand the best use safety practices they should be following to secure and lockdown that infrastructure.
Officers (and anyone else using the network, for that matter) should be regularly trained and updated on best use practices, attending these training just as they would for any of their other “on-the-job” responsibilities.
Here are some free government resources for police departments.
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Services (NCATS)
- National Computer Forensics Institute Training
- FBI’s Cybersecurity Resources
Lock Down Your Wireless Network
Open Wi-Fi channels are far too prevalent “out in the wild”, especially if you work at a police department that may not be as technologically savvy as others.
These open Wi-Fi channels give cybercriminals effortless access to your entire network, essentially like leaving all of your jail cells wide open after you book and bring perpetrators in.
You need to close down this barn door, that’s for sure, and it’s important that you are using Wi-Fi network encryption protocols that give you a lot more control over your network while further securing it.
Use Cybersecurity Software
The foundation that a police department’s cybersecurity efforts should be built on top of always includes a rock-solid antivirus and malware protection system.
It’s surprising the number of police departments that aren’t using frequently updated or reputable antivirus solutions & malware protection software with a track record of success.
This has to be the first investment any police department makes in their cybersecurity protocol.
Take Advantage of Password Management Systems
Frequently the weakest link in any security system are passwords that are easy to guess – and the easiest passwords to guess are usually the easiest for individuals to remember, which makes this a bit of a double-edged sword.
Thankfully though, with the help of quality and reputable password management systems every single person using your IT infrastructure can create their own secure passwords without the headache and without hassle – and without having to memorize these complex, multi-character passwords along the way.
Let the password management system handle the heavy lifting for you and you’ll see the security of your network skyrocket almost immediately.
Backup and Secure Everything
At the end of the day, multiple backups of critical data need to be made on a daily basis (ideally multiple times throughout the day) following the 3-2-1 backup strategy.
Three copies of data spread across two different storage mediums, one of which is located off-site, will provide you with the kind of redundancy you can rely on in the event of a viral attack or a ransomware breach.
Without these kinds of backups available (and secured ahead of time), your entire system will always be vulnerable to cybercriminals, something that happens far too often in the policing world.
Implement Two Factor Authentication (At Minimum)
Two-factor authentication (like you’ll find with a lot of popular online services, including those from Google and in the financial world) is a major leap forward in the world of cybersecurity and something that your police department will want to consider implementing across the board for devices.
Thumbprint scanners, PIN numbers, passcodes, and more can all be taken advantage of to provide an extra layer of security on top of your password to further lock down and protect your police department.
Ideally, departments would be so well-funded that they could always take advantage of the latest and greatest in online and cybersecurity solutions – but we all know this isn’t necessarily the case.
This is why you’ll likely have to be a little inventive and a little innovative in how you secure your IT infrastructure, but make no mistake about it – that infrastructure needs to be backed up, secured, and locked down ASAP. Police officers aren’t the only government employees that need to be following cybersecurity protocols either.