Owensboro, Ky., Understands Importance of Cyber Updates – Government Technology


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The city of Owensboro in Kentucky lost its email capabilities last year due to a cyber attack, and a vendor recently stopped a series of attempted attacks. As such, the city will continue to invest in cyber.

April 26, 2022 • 

James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer



(TNS) — The city's budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year includes $235,000 for cybersecurity, which city IT manager Angela Bruner says is a constant threat.

The city experienced a cyber attack last year that caused it to lose email service, and a large attempted cyber attack was detected recently by the firm the city used for additional Internet security.

The need for enhanced cybersecurity will only increase, as hackers seek new ways to break into computer systems.

"The people who do cybersecurity attacks are looking for new technology to make the attack," Bruner said. "We have to keep up with all they are trying to do."

City Hall's IT department handles some of its own cybersecurity, but an outside vendor also monitors the system for attacks. Recently the vendor notified the city of an attempted attack that included 30,000 attempts to force into the city's system.

"They did notice a significant increase in those intrusion type events," Bruner said. Those attacks happened over a period of a couple of days, Bruner told City Commissioners last week.

Late last year, a cyber attack took down the city's email system. The attack was a ransomware attack, but the city did not pay ransom, finance director Angela Waninger said.

Instead, officials rebuilt the email system, Waninger said.

"We shut it down and took the necessary precautions we were able to take," Waninger said.

Bruner said estimates from the cybersecurity industries are that cyber attacks increased 25 to 30% during the COVID pandemic, and have not declined. Attempts to infiltrate the city's computer network are commonplace.

"We captured millions of spam emails we didn't let into our system," Bruner said.

The city has data in "three layers of backup," Bruner said. The city is also adding a ransomware defender that prevents ransomeware from infecting the backup systems, she said.

"They keep attacking, and they are going to keep attacking," Bruner said. "That's the nature of the game."

©2022 Messenger-Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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