Jonesboro council tackles cybersafety

JONESBORO — The Jonesboro City Council recently took action to head off cybersecurity threats like the $50,000 ransomware attack that froze many Atlanta basic city services. The ongoing cybersecurity response in Atlanta has reportedly cost taxpayers more than $2.7 million.

City Manager Ricky Clark noted Jonesboro’s effort is twofold: updating the firewall software that protects taxpayer and city agency data, and adding cyberattack coverage to the city’s insurance contract with OneBeacon.

According to Mayor Joy Day, the city keeps its financial, personnel, business licensing, and other crucial documents on a separate computer on city property, not on the city’s Sophicity web portal. The portal, which is run by Mimsware in Alpharetta, has its own security features and support.

“It’s not that we’ve had any breaches or anything,” Day explained. “It’s just an older system, like when you have an old car. And technology changes rapidly, too, so that’s why we’re upgrading.”

Sophicity client services manager Sarah Diggs added that the city’s move was proactive: “We also cover antivirus and monitoring for the city machines. A firewall and associated software will give granular control over the access to the internal network. This will assist in preventing intrusion from unwanted external sources in addition to the antivirus we already provide. “

The city manager’s office recommended buying a Sonicwall TZ300 Firewall, to “provide additional security protection for the city’s financial data .” It also called for three Wasp Ubiquiti UniFi long-range wireless access points to be installed after the firewall, to allow secure wireless connections to the server. CDW-G quoted the city $1,032 for the firewall, $360 for the wireless access point 3-pack, and $437 for half a day’s labor. The motion passed at the council’s April 9 meeting.

On the insurance side, the city will apply $786 in negotiated savings to new cyberattack coverage in its property, casualty, and loss policy. The renewal had been quoted at a 16 percent increase over last fiscal year.

“We talked with the broker because there’s no way we would be able to absorb a 16 percent increase,” Clark said. “I’m happy to present a 3 percent increase, at a cost savings of around $40,000 based on what we budgeted for fiscal year 2018.”

Michael White of Apex Insurance told the council, “We’re seeing tremendous changes. Your increase is well below your peer group, which is nine percent on average, primarily due to losses and the rate of inflation in the medical community.”

Commenting on the city’s risk management efforts, Mayor Day noted that the Accident Review Committee did not meet last month because the city had no accidents.

White praised Clark for getting Apex the information it needed to revise the OneBeacon quote and invited the council to attend a brief insurance session at a later date. “We appreciate the partnership we have with the city of Jonesboro.”

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