Spotlight on Public Finance, Spring 2018
Spring 2018 Newsletter
Featured Article Practice Focus Attorney Spotlight
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5 Tax Reform Fallout and Infrastructure Plan Discussion 6
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Featured Article Only You Can Prevent Cyber-attacks: How to Spot the Fires and Put Them Out*
A colleague recently received a personal e-mail from a foreign prince offering massive “compeiennsation” for assistance liberating funds held by the United Nations—the prince just needed a $10,000 advance, via Western Union, to get some initial paperwork sorted out. Perhaps you received the same email. Unfortunately, most attempts at internet-based crime aren’t quite as easy to spot and without sufficient response plans in place, they can be even harder to resolve. For example, if a hacker accesses a municipal server, he or she can limit or manipulate public functions that operate through government networks. Just days ago, the Atlanta municipal government was held hostage for nearly a week following a digital extortion attempt. It is unclear how the City’s network was breached, but in the cyberattack, hackers attempted to lock government data files limit access to many routine online government functions and, through encryption, refused to make them accessible until a ransom was paid. After five days offline, many (but not all) public services had been restored. The City has not yet divulged how the matter was resolved. A separate common attack is for a fraudster to pose as a contractor on a public infrastructure project, who might email a project manager with a fake invoice requesting that payments be wired to a new account. Within minutes, bond proceeds paid to the “contractor” may end in the same hands as the funds wired to help the poor foreign prince mentioned above. Public entities are especially susceptible to email scams because open records and open meetings laws and transparent operations make it easy for criminals to conduct reconnaissance on employees and transactions. This allows the criminals to craft personalized and convincing fake messages that do not contain obvious indicators of a fraud.
*An earlier version of this article was previously published in The Bond Buyer. It has been updated to reflect more recent developments.
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