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Decatur completes $40k ‘Cybersecurity Risk Assessment’

Crime and public safety Decatur slideshow

Decatur completes $40k ‘Cybersecurity Risk Assessment’

Decatur City Hall.

The city of Decatur recently completed a $40,455 for a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment performed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

It’s a study that assesses the city’s vulnerability to hackers. The document itself is not a public record because it would reveal weaknesses in the city’s defenses.

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The contract was awarded back in July and the effort was spearheaded by Assistant City Manager Andrea Arnold. She said there wasn’t any specific thing that prompted the city to probe its vulnerabilities, saying the study was strictly proactive.

“As I’m sure you are aware, attacks on computer networks are growing in numbers, severity and sophistication,” Arnold said. “In an effort to protect the city’s IT network, we made a decision to identify the city’s current cybersecurity risks so that we can best address those risks. This is a proactive best practice as opposed to waiting for something bad to happen and then taking action.”

The commission discussed the results of the study during a closed-door meeting on Feb. 21, but Arnold did speak on the topic during the commission’s public meeting later that evening.

“Some of the risks that are posed to governments, specifically to local governments, include the loss of data,” she told commissioners. “If data is accessed, the city’s financial data, personnel related data, legal information, those files could be released to the public. They could be destroyed, sent to another party. If our systems are attacked our computer system could be immobilized. Also, communication channels could be compromised. You could imagine the confusion that could surround a hack of our communication channels.”

Arnold said she is unaware of any other city in Georgia that has spent money on an independent, third-party audit of its cybersecurity.

Mayor Patti Garrett said commissioners were “impressed” with the study.

“I think it’s great we’re the first city really to get a nonbiased third party to come in and take a look,” Garrett told Arnold. “I appreciate your pro-action on this.”

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