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Santa Cruz County vulnerable to cyber attacks, Grand Jury recommends putting plan in place

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV) - A grand jury report shows the county of Santa Cruz could be vulnerable to a cyber attack after.

The last time Santa Cruz County was a victim of a cyber attack was back in 2010. Technology has advanced since then, and after this grand jury report County officials tell KION they are already taking steps to be prepared against a cyber attack.

Jason Hoppin, a public information officer for Santa Cruz County says, "We're really cognizant of the threat and very aware and trying to make sure that does not happen here."

A grand jury report released last week found that Santa Cruz County does not have a detailed incident response plan in the event of a cyber incident.

Leilani Gilpin, a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC Santa Cruz says, "When your identity gets compromised, they get everything they get your social security birthday and bank information ect, now imagine that at a bigger scale, if it were to be attacked from the county, I think it could cause some issues."

The grand jury report recommended the county to:
-implement a plan by the end of 2023
-revise and expand the plan to include state and federal officials by the end of 2023
-and scheduled monthly meetings with cities across the county to share their information and possible threats.

"What we want to do in response to this report is just talk with the cities to share information, begin kind of a roundtable on an ongoing basis, to share information, share funding opportunities and things like that, so that we can all work together on improving cybersecurity throughout the county," said Hoppin.

The grand jury report shows that the short staffing is an issue. I-T director Ken Morgan says they have stepped up their staffing.

"Over the last four or five months, we have been recruiting and we now have a staff of about 21 of our 23 positions filled with one more open recruitment," said Morgan.

However, they are still lacking a response plan the grand jury is recommending.

"We don't have a formalized incident response plan. What I said is we have a draft format," said Morgan.

Morgan tells me he hopes to have the draft finalized by the end of 2023.

The county says as of now, they plan to meet that end-of-the-year deadline.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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