TEWKSBURY – The City of Tewksbury has received funding to improve the security of its operational technology systems that control critical infrastructure. As part of ongoing initiatives, the city has reviewed and strengthened OT (operational technology) and IT (information technology systems), both for delivering critical services and protecting sensitive data.
OT includes systems that manage the physical mechanisms that businesses or municipalities rely on, while IT includes systems that businesses or municipalities use to collect and store data such as customer or financial information.
According to Board Vice President James Mackey, the city will begin working with Dragos, a Maryland-based cybersecurity company, to evaluate and then implement processes and technologies to address technological vulnerabilities. work and the industrial control system that may be found.
“We can’t rely on just one tool or product,” said Mackey, a cyber security expert.
“The castle and moat model is no longer a guarantee,” said Mackey, explaining that protecting community assets requires training staff, having procedures, and then implementing technology to support monitoring.
The first area to be considered is the surrounding water control system.
Like many municipalities, the city has been hit by threats, including a ransomware attack on the police department in December 2014 and an email phishing scam in January 2022. It’s not alone. is the victim of this type of cybercrime.
The city has been actively working to increase awareness of cybersecurity threats to municipalities, hosting a summit in late 2021 that included dozens of communities in local participated in a seminar on municipal cybersecurity. At the seminar, Mackey said the event was designed to introduce senior municipal managers to key cybersecurity concepts, acknowledging that while they are not expected to be subject matter experts, managing the cities and towns need to be able to communicate with each other. in mitigating and responding to cyberthreats.
Dragos will begin a system evaluation to verify his understanding of Tewksbury’s infrastructure system. According to Mackey, developing a cyber security program is a huge undertaking, and a lifelong process. Cybersecurity experts agree that security strategies must be flexible and constantly improved to stay ahead of threats.
A security system consists of people, processes and technology. Mackey said threats are constantly evolving and are financial, criminal or transnational. Mackey also said there are “hacktivists” — those who seek ideas by hijacking a website and changing its message. Recent infrastructure breaches in the news highlight this point, such as the 2021 Colonial Pipeline shutdown that has stopped the flow of oil in the largest pipeline in the United States.
Mackey hopes to use the National Guard’s IRT unit to bring an additional emphasis on cyber security to the community. Mackey said there is a partnership for 2023 that will bring free services to the community, and provide training for the group. In addition, Mackey considers internships with students interested in cybersecurity as a field.
“I want students to know that cybersecurity is a career path that leads to good jobs and great careers,” Mackey said.