The threat of Russian hackers attacking targets in the U.S. has been a backdrop to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and NATO’s response of sending weapons to Ukraine. Federal officials from cybersecurity specialists up to the president have been warning businesses to shore up their defenses, and pundits have been encouraging Americans to do the same for their personal digital protection.

Often left out of the discussion are some of the most enticing and vulnerable targets: local governments. Cities and towns are where the rubber meets the road for most government services people rely on. Attacks on local governments could tear at the fabric of American society by putting citizens at risk and straining their faith in government.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County cybersecurity expert Richard Forno explains the threat, why local governments are vulnerable and what they can do to improve the situation.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Hackers can disrupt local government services, like this library in Willmar, Texas. The town suffered a cyberattack in August 2019. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Local governments are attractive targets for hackers and are ill-prepared

Richard Forno, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

With Russia poised to launch cyberattacks on US targets, many local governments find themselves without the staff or resources to even recognize when they’re under attack.

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