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Wyandotte County updates public on cybersecurity hack

Unified Government Building
Posted at 4:07 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 18:22:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The calendar is about to turn from April into May, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, is still assessing the scope of a cybersecurity hack that affected county and city services during the Easter holiday weekend.

County residents have been unable to pay their property taxes online since the hack, with one other key area affected.

"Departments that work closely with the state such as motor vehicles have had delays due to the lack of connectivity in an effort to preserve the integrity of the state's data," interim County Administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said.

Mayor Tyrone Gardner, as part of today's update, said the public safety departments were not affected by the hack.

"Police, fire and dispatch service were never affected. You still have police cars out here on the streets, you still have your ambulance and fire services still responding as requested," Gardner said.

However, a cybersecurity attack on a local government has the attention of experts. William J. Brunkhardt of Security Mitigation Solutions, LLC, issued this warning to KSHB 41:

“It is critical that our state and local governments take the lead in current and emerging cybersecurity threats. Studies show that most have a security posture that is measured as 'mediocre'.

“These government entities are vulnerable for the emerging cyber threats we are seeing now and extremely under prepared for what is 3, 6, 9, 12 months away. They need to get prepared with the right tools, like immersive continual education, a basic understanding of the technology, the power of what frequent vulnerability assessments that are completed by true cyber professional and a continual pulse their networks. It used to be that you gained confidence in your cyber posture because you bought the fanciest firewall around. Well, today, the firewall is only about 20% of what keeps us secure.

“With these state and local governments, they have more critical operations than running the government: they have schools, power co-operatives, airports, sports and entertainment venues, license plate bureaus, etc., etc. It’s a daunting task but we must give them the answers that they never thought to ask.

“And remember, cybersecurity is only 50% about hardware, software, IoT devices, etc. The other 50% is the human factor. From my personal experience, sophisticated social-engineering is gravely harming state and local governments.

"They have been promised federal funding to help them… My biggest concern is that once they receive the funds, they won’t know how to spend it. The local firewall salesman is on you should run away from. Find the true professionals that are trying to sell you anything but their expertise and experience in real-world scenarios.”
William J. Brunkhardt

During Friday's update, reporters were not given the opportunity to ask questions, with officials only making prepared statements about the investigation.

"We have to balance the importance of transparency, while also respecting the integrity of the ongoing investigation," Mayor Gardner said.

As this story develops, we will continued to keep you updated.