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Is Your Township Cybersecure? Help Researchers Assess Municipal Readiness

Monday August 19th, 2019
Townships will soon be receiving an important email from Penn State asking them to complete a survey on cybersecurity, and PSATS is urging their participation.
 
Since January, a group of Penn State researchers has been developing a survey to assess the cybersecurity readiness of Pennsylvania municipalities. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is funding the project. The team soft-launched the survey to a random selection of 100 municipalities, and will release the survey to all Pennsylvania municipalities later in August.
 
According to an NPR story, this year alone, there have been 176 ransomware attacks on local and state government. In these incidents, criminals hold hostage sensitive and critical data and demand money in return. The moral of the story is that local governments need to take action now before becoming victims of such cyber attacks.
 
The study's goal is to assess the cybersecurity readiness of boroughs, townships, and cities and identify their strengths and weaknesses in the areas of infrastructure, literacy, and daily practices. A similar study took place in 2008, and the researchers will look at the progress municipalities have made since then.
 
A secondary goal of the survey is to raise awareness among municipalities about what they should be doing to avoid cyber attacks. It is hoped that the survey will serve as an educational tool to teach municipalities more about various countermeasures and recommended practices.
 
Townships should watch their inboxes for an email about the survey from Penn State. (The email will be in the format name@psu.edu.) Townships that do not receive an email will be able to go to altoona.psu.edu/cybersec after the full roll-out to participate.