When disasters strike, cities need robust recovery plans in place or risk finding themselves in deep trouble, said a municipal CIO and an industry leader during a May 24 webinar hosted by the Center for Government Technology.

The City of Sarasota, Fla., found itself staring down a ransomware attack in 2016, with 15 terabytes of information encrypted by criminals. After the attack, the IT staff had to rethink how they approached security, said Herminio Rodriguez, the city’s IT director.

“We learned a lot of lessons, and put in a lot of checks and balances after. The way we live now, we’re expecting the next ransomware hit tomorrow. That’s how urgent this is,” he said.

“We all know there’s some type of an outage in our future, whether it’s physical, virtual, or ransomware,” said Salim Ruffin, a senior systems engineer for Veeam.

Ruffin suggested that governments follow the 3-2-1-1-0 rule. What does that mean?

“Basically, three copies of your data, two different media sets, and one offsite. We also refer to one offline as well. The zero refers to no errors based on backup certification. The idea here is to have multiple platforms to review in case you have an outage.” Ruffin also advised administrators to use special credentials for backup storage, and to establish visibility into their infrastructure.

“You’ve got to be able to quantify the risk. How long can we be down? All that has a political cost, a financial cost, there’s unknowns to citizens as well,” added Rodriguez. He suggested using existing data to put a number on the cost of not providing services.

“You get this data, you get your stakeholders in a room for an hour or two, and you can use the scare tactic,” he said.

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