The City of St. Albert is gearing up for a spring cybersecurity shake-up. Coun. Sheena Hughes emphasised the need to minimise risks, stating that cybersecurity mishaps can be a costly affair. With an eye on effectiveness, Hughes believes the audit will enhance the city’s cyber-game, emphasising that all governments should be on top of their cybersecurity game.
The audit aims to evaluate the city’s cybersecurity practices, identify risks and vulnerabilities, and craft a plan to safeguard sensitive data. The approach involves hiring a consultant versed in frameworks like the V8 Controls by the Centre for Internet Security or the US government’s Cyber Security Framework. Their mission: to scrutinise, score, and assess risks within these frameworks and present a detailed report outlining observations and recommendations. The audit will cover various aspects, including data recovery, malware defenses, network monitoring, penetration testing, and more. Hughes stressed the importance of preventive measures to avoid unnecessary costs. In the digital era, ensuring proper checks and balances for data protection is crucial.
The audit is slated to kick off in March, with a final report anticipated in August. The report will include a recommended multi-year roadmap, detailing efforts, budget, and resources required for execution. Edmonton completed a similar audit in 2023, with a confidential report presented to the city council in May, outlining recommendations spanning data, user access, networks, and more.
Drawing parallels, Halifax Regional Municipality underwent a cybersecurity audit in the previous year. Unlike Edmonton’s confidential report, Halifax’s findings were publicized. The report uncovered lapses in I.T. management oversight, limited policies to manage risks, and an unclear roadmap to address cybersecurity issues.
Among the eyebrow-raising issues were unaccounted-for laptops, incomplete cybersecurity training for staff and elected officials, and a near-miss with a cybersecurity breach in North Bay, Ontario, involving unauthorised access to resident information in a phishing attempt.
As St. Albert gears up for its cybersecurity overhaul, the experiences of Edmonton and Halifax serve as cautionary tales, highlighting the importance of proactive measures to safeguard against digital threats.