Langley Township has safeguards against hackers using ransomware, but finding enough qualified IT and computer security professionals remains an issue, according to a report to council.
The report, to be discussed at the Monday, July 12 council meeting, was in response to a request for more information about how the Township is prepared for ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is malicious software that invades and then locks up the data and computer systems of a large organization. Major corporations, civic and regional governments, hospitals, and even oil pipeline operators have all been targeted with ransomware in recent years.
TransLink was the victim of a major ransomware attack and data breach last December.
The hackers who operate the ransomware then demand a cash payment, typically transferred in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrencies, for the keys to unlock the computer systems and data.
According to the report to council, the Township has taken steps to implement computer security measures over the years, but specific details of the protection are not being released as that can aid hackers seeking to penetrate a system.
The report does say that in the last month, 2,500 potential vulnerabilities were identified and mitigated, and over seven days leading up to the report, more than a quarter million emails were identified as spam or with “malicious payloads” and were blocked.
“In the case of ransomware specifically, the first line of defence is educating end users so that they can easily identify emails with malicious intent,” said the report, by Steve Scheepmaker, the director of the corporate administration division for the Township.
“To help educate Township staff, a security awareness training program was launched in 2019,” Scheepmaker’s report said. “The program is mandatory for all staff and also incorporates ongoing ‘phishing tests’ to identify staff who may require further training.”
The main challenge the Township faces is one of getting enough qualified technical staff, the report concludes.
The Township is competing with every other medium to large organization in the Lower Mainland, including Microsoft and Amazon, for IT staffers.
”Even in more demand is specific expertise in cybersecurity operations, resulting in an increase dependence on external consulting resources and services,” the report said.
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