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GAO Urges CISA, Secret Service, and FBI to Help Stale, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments with Ransomware Challenges

In a report, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes recommendations that “could help the federal government improve coordination and assistance” to help protect state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government organizations from ransomware attacks. Ransomware: Federal Coordination and Assistance Challenges recommends that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Secret Service, and FBI improve interagency coordination on ransomware assistance to SLTTs and evaluate how to best address concerns raised by SLTTs; and that the Department of Education work with CISA to establish an applicable government coordinating council to coordinate cybersecurity efforts between federal agencies and with the K-12 community.


  • A natural forcing function for collaboration amongst federal agencies with SLTT’s is the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC). As part of its network monitoring service, the MS-ISAC publishes a monthly Situational Awareness Report to the SLTT community that includes the Top 10 malware [including ransomware] events found.
  • Coordination and collaboration helps build our overall situational awareness as well as making it easier to “phone a friend” when things get dicey. An interesting finding is that an incident at a school can cause a loss of between 3 days and 3 weeks of learning. Things are rough enough in the school systems without that added impact. If you’re involved in coordinated communication and outreach, step back and make sure that everyone is both included and participating. This is an opportunity to add incredible resources to your rolodex.
  • This is a problem of many targets at least some of which lack the scale to adequately protect themselves, rather than one of “coordination.” Coordination among Federal agencies may reduce waste, possibly even improve efficiency, without addressing the problem.


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