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Published on September 21st, 2022 📆 | 2509 Views ⚑

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Commission approves plan to upgrade cybersecurity


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The Cole County Commission has approved implementing an additional program to help keep the county's computer systems protected from a potential cyber attack.

On Tuesday, commissioners approved paying an additional $16,120 to Huber & Associates of Jefferson City, which currently monitors the county's computer systems. The fee will cover the last three months of the year before a new contract for next year is approved. Prior to this approval, the contract with Huber was $248,000.

"We are very naive if we think Cole County won't be attacked," said Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman, who mentioned the problems Capital Region Medical Center and Camden County government had to recover from after their computer systems were attacked in recent years.

Brian Ridenhour, county information systems director, said the average cost of a cybersecurity attack would be $300,000-$400,000, but some have been as high as $750,000.

"This gives us the best chance to thwart or mitigate an attack, and should we be attacked, recover from it," Ridenhour said.

One of the key things the agreement provides is an off-site recovery facility.

"Should we have a catastrophic event like a tornado, our data resides in a secured location and having this in place will allow us to provide continuity of services should something like that occur," Ridenhour said.

"I'd love to live like it was seven years ago, but the truth of the matter is, this technology evolves," Ridehour continued. "It's created a multi-billion dollar business just in attacking companies for ransom. We could hire more people to monitor these activities for us or hire the service to get it done."

As part of this agreement with Huber, Ridenhour asked that county elected officials and department directors take security training "very seriously" and that they, along with their employees, participate in that training "100 percent."

"That is our best strategy, going forward, to prevent an attack," Ridenhour said.

There is policy in the county's employee handbook where employees have to agree to proper use of county computer equipment and the security training can be incorporated into that, according to county staff.

In other business, commissioners approved a final contract for a lease plan with a Michigan company for an upgrade to ambulance equipment. The contract with Stryker International would be for $3,531,104 over a 10-year period. That breaks down to $353,110 a year. EMS Chief Eric Hoy said they had put in the $353,110 amount for the upcoming year, and the county auditor had not raised any red flags in looking at how this would affect the EMS budget.

The commission had approved Hoy's request to move forward with the plan last month. In looking at capital items in the next few years, Hoy said several pieces of equipment such as cots, lift chairs and CPR machines would need to be replaced, which would come with a large price tag.

Instead of dealing with one piece of equipment at a time, Hoy said Stryker's program would allow the county to purchase multiple items during the 10-year-period.

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