One of the key enhancements stressed by Town Manager Kaj Dentler when presenting Leesburg’s fiscal year 2019 budget was the need to protect the town from cyber attacks and to ensure its systems are running efficiently.
It was an area that garnered particular attention from the town’s Technology & Communications Commission, which oversaw a recent security risk assessment evaluating the town’s IT and cybersecurity infrastructure. The results of that report, presented to the Town Council earlier this year, underscored the need to have staff in place with the primary responsibility of overseeing information security.
“Security never stays still from one day to the next,” Commission Chairman John Binckley said. “We need to have someone who’s got primary responsibility for security activities.”
The report pointed to recent incidents in other municipalities that shut their systems down, causing service disruptions and financial loss. A ransomware attack in the San Francisco municipal government, for example, put its systems down for three days, at a loss of $50,000. A similar attack in Cockrell, TX, saw eight years of digital police data lost.
The consultant had recommended the town hire an information security officer. But with a price tag north of $150,000 including compensation and benefits, Dentler is recommending that the council go with the more economical approach of hiring a customer service specialist. The help desk-type position will allow the town’s IT technician to focus on the more complex work, including implementing recommendations put forward in the security risk assessment. About $25,000 has been earmarked to do exactly that.
An additional position put forward by Dentler, and also endorsed by the Technology & Communications Commission, is that of a business systems integrator. If the position is approved by the council, this person would be responsible for automating and streamlining the town’s IT processes, including integrating the 30 existing financial systems used by the town government.
“There is no one person who is a specialist in managing and operating those programs. That [position] should pay for itself by being able to streamline and automate processes,” Dentler said.
Each week, Loudoun Now will give a closer look into a particular area of Leesburg Town Manager Kaj Dentler’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget. Members of the Town Council are expected to adopt the budget April 10. The budget can be viewed at leesburgva.gov/budget.