Over the years, the threat of cybercrime has increased immensely. News of data breaches are becoming commonplace and far too often large amounts of personal data are stolen. We’ve seen increased activity of identity theft, ransomware, stolen archives of communications, and breaches to government information. These attacks can be carried out from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers and Deloitte recently surveyed chief information security officers in 49 states and found a significant increase in attention from governors and other state officials on the issue of cybersecurity. The concern is over the growing number of attacks as well as the increasing level of sophistication. This also comes at a time when many states have rapidly aging IT professionals who are nearing retirement. The survey calls on states to find innovative ways to attract new IT professionals to state government roles as states will be required to hire and maintain new cybersecurity staff to help prevent these attacks.
While we need to continue monitoring and paying more attention to cybersecurity issues in state government, we also need to continue to find ways to help protect Iowans from cybercrimes. This year in the legislature, we passed House File 2271 which increased penalties for identity theft as well as ensuring other benefits gained due to the crime would also be prosecuted. The bill was signed by the Governor in March and went into effect on July 1st.
We will continue to look at additional ways we can fight cybercrime from a legislative standpoint, but unfortunately, these crimes are difficult to trace and can be carried out from anywhere in the world. It is important for Iowans to take precautions to protect themselves from cybercrime by being vigilant online. Be careful of what information you publicize on the internet, create strong passwords, do not respond to emails asking for personal information, and do not download or install software from unknown sources. These are just a few ways you can protect yourself and your family from identity theft and other serious cybercrimes.