Local governments are increasingly joining the list of smaller targets sought out by hackers as they come to the harsh realization that cybersecurity is not an issue that only plagues large retailers and financial institutions. Unfortunately, a number of local and state governments, including Miami-Dade County, Florida and Detroit, Michigan, have recently had data breaches. In addition to sensitive tax forms, local governments also store marriage licenses, car registrations, property tax information and other private information of its citizens that can be valuable to hackers.

Valuable information isn’t the only target for these hackers, local governments have seen bank accounts depleted as well. For example, the town of Poughkeepsie, New York suffered an attack resulting in nearly $400,000 being taken out of its bank accounts. The money was ultimately traced to the Ukraine and eventually recovered, but no one was charged with the crime. Since the breach, the town has taken steps to tighten its security when, in 2014, it paid nearly $25,000 for outside IT consulting and has hired an in-house IT person to handle security issues.

Recent reports also indicate that local and county governments, such as Clark County, Nevada, are beginning to understand the value of cyber insurance prior to suffering a breach or other incident. Recognizing the risk created by its nearly 7,000 computers and 2,000 cell phones, Clark County bought a cyber policy providing $25 million in coverage from Beazley Group. The policy, which cost approximately $10,000 per year, provides coverage for the costs to notify individuals potentially impacted by a breach, cyber extortion, crisis management and physical damage to the County’s equipment and computer systems.

Additionally, local governments have more access to cyber insurance coverage. For example, Illinois Parks Association Risk Services (“IPARKS”) offers cyber insurance to its park district members through a “Cyber Liability” endorsement, “electronic data coverage” and cyber breach expense coverage.

While a breach may be inevitable, being unprepared isn’t. These issues and more will be addressed in-depth at the May 28, 2015 “Governing With Confidence 2015 ” workshop hosted by Tressler in Chicago. This complimentary program will address the many challenges for local governments. Please contact Liz Ashline at for further information.