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Senate Bill 52 to Create Ohio Cyber Force

In January, the city of Akron suffered a ransomware attack when hackers shut down the city’s 311 non-emergency phone call system just as city plows were being deployed during a snowstorm.

To undo the damage, hackers demanded that the city pay them a five-figure sum. This attack prompted Ohio lawmakers to consider new legislation that would address any future attacks of this nature.

Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation in the form of Senate Bill 52 to deal with future scenarios like this in what they say will be a quick and organized way: The legislation would create a civilian force of 50 to 100 professionals across the state who would work to prevent such attacks and respond when they happen.

This “Ohio Cyber Reserve” would be a volunteer group that would operate under Major General John Harris, the Ohio adjutant general who commands the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.

“There’s so much cyber talent working out there in industry, in business and quite frankly in some municipalities, but we have no way to orchestrate that or organize that.” - John Harris

The topic of cyber-security is something that is everyone should be talking about and thinking about. With more and more threats happening everyday to individuals, businesses and municipalities. But all too often, people don’t invest enough in the resources that are needed to protect computer networks and systems.

Volunteers in Ohio’s Cyber Reserve would be expected to work for no pay “most of the time,” unless they are responding to an emergency situation. Then they would be paid as state employees. The members would be working with members of the National Guard in the case of an event. This force would work for state and local governments, analyzing vulnerabilities and helping municipalities ward off attacks. They would also work to recruit the “cyber-talent of the future,” reaching out to students in high schools. - John Harris

Attacking cities is an increasingly popular tactic for cyber criminals. In the same month that Akron was attacked, the City of Del Rio was also hit. City officials were forced to switch to paperwork after ransomware shut down the city’s servers. Atlanta, Georgia was attacked in March 2018 and had to pay a hefty ransom to get the city back up and running. Hackers also targeted Dallas, Texas in 2017. The hackers were able to shut down the city’s security system, resulting in over 150 security alarms to go off. This crippled their 911 service due to an overwhelming amount of calls.

These attacks are why Ohio needs to have a formalized plan to deal with the situations that are bound to happen to more cities in the future.

It is important to remember that no one is safe or immune from cyber threats. It is unfortunately the landscape of the world we live in. Your business should also have plans and people in place to help prevent, protect and respond to ransomware or other malicious attacks. If you do not have a plan in place or the people to do this, contact us. We can assess your threat level and come up with a plan to keep your business safe.