Over the past several months, the United States has experienced many cyberattacks to large cities and small towns. These attacks, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas told mayors across the country indicate that cities across the United States need to identify a cyber leader regardless of the size and sophistication of the infrastructure to remain vigilant about cybersecurity.


During the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Jan. 20, Mayorkas explained that some mayors might feel that their city is immune from a cybersecurity attack because they’re off the radar and perhaps too small to be victimized. And there may be mayors from large cities with very sophisticated cybersecurity architectures that might find a great deal of comfort in the architectures they’ve built and consider themselves immune to attacks.


“And I would respectfully submit that [they] would both be wrong,” Mayorkas said. “Regardless of the size and sophistication of your infrastructure, you really need to identify a person who could take charge of the cybersecurity portfolio because it is something that we all need to be vigilant about.”


In addition to implementing a singular cyber leader, Mayorkas advised that instructing personnel and the community at large to implement cyber hygiene to their cyber routines is another step cities can take to mitigate attacks. 


“In a world where we are all connected, it only takes one computer, and we say that we’re only as strong as our weakest link,” he said. 


Additionally, DHS will also be available to help mitigate these attacks, Mayorkas added. DHS plans to distribute $1 billion in grant funds around the country to different cities – small, medium, and large – over four years. This year, the department plans to distribute $200 million of those funds. 


“And so, we have a great deal of funding to equip and empower you to deal with this threat environment that is only growing,” Mayorkas said. He added that cities should also look towards CISA for continuous and updated guidance regarding cybersecurity. 

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.