Cybercrime Escalation: How Municipal Governments Can Combat Rising Threats

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Municipal governments are increasingly under siege from cybercriminals, as highlighted by recent attacks. The Town of Arlington, MA, recently lost $445,000 in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack, marking the fifth such incident in Massachusetts since 2020 due to insufficient cyber hygiene. Ontario municipalities like Hamilton and Huntsville have also been targeted this year. It’s clear that the threat to municipal IT systems is escalating globally, necessitating immediate and effective action.

The Growing Cyber Threat

The recent attack on Arlington involved a sophisticated BEC scheme where cybercriminals used phishing, spoofing, and social engineering to compromise email accounts and divert funds. The incident underscores the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect municipal systems and sensitive data. These attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, posing a significant risk to municipal operations and public trust.

Key Actions for Municipal IT Leaders

To combat these threats, municipal IT leaders must prioritize the following actions:

  • Enhance Email Security: Implement advanced email security protocols to detect and block spoofing and phishing attempts.
  • Mandatory Cyber Training: Conduct regular cybersecurity training for all staff to help them recognize and respond to threats.
  • Robust Authentication: Adopt multi-factor authentication (MFA) and Zero Trust principles to strengthen access controls.
  • Swift Incident Response: Establish and practice an incident response plan that includes coordination with law enforcement and cybersecurity experts.

Canadian municipal building exterior

Enhanced Email Security

Email remains a primary vector for cyberattacks. Municipalities should invest in comprehensive email security solutions that offer spam filtering, malware detection, and real-time threat intelligence. These tools can help prevent phishing and spoofing attacks, ensuring that only legitimate communications reach municipal employees.

Mandatory Cyber Training

Training employees to recognize cyber threats is crucial. Regular, mandatory cybersecurity training sessions can equip staff with the knowledge to identify suspicious emails, avoid phishing scams, and report potential security incidents. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the risk of successful cyberattacks.

Robust Authentication and Zero Trust

Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an additional layer of security, requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to systems. Adopting a Zero Trust security model, which assumes that threats could be internal or external, ensures that access is granted based on stringent verification processes, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.

Swift Incident Response

Having a well-defined incident response plan is essential. Municipalities should establish a coordinated approach to respond to cyber incidents, including notifying law enforcement, engaging cybersecurity providers, and communicating transparently with the public. Regular drills and updates to the response plan can ensure readiness when an attack occurs.

Case Study: Arlington, MA

The Arlington BEC attack serves as a cautionary tale. After the fraud was discovered, the town implemented several measures to prevent future incidents:

  • Forced network disconnection and password changes for all users
  • Enabled MFA for key personnel
  • Reconfigured email security settings
  • Conducted a full security audit and reconciliation of the budget
  • Instituted mandatory cybersecurity training
  • Applied for state grants to further bolster cybersecurity measures

Despite these efforts, the town faces significant financial recovery challenges. With only a small portion of the stolen funds recovered, Arlington’s experience highlights the need for comprehensive and proactive cybersecurity strategies to prevent such losses.

How Fusion Computing Can Help

At Fusion Computing, we understand the unique cybersecurity challenges faced by municipal governments. Our Managed Security Services offer a comprehensive solution to protect your municipal IT infrastructure, including:

  • Anti-Virus & Endpoint Detection: Continuous monitoring and threat detection to protect against malware and other cyber threats.
  • Configuration & Compliance: Custom security policies to ensure compliance and enhance your security posture.
  • Security Awareness Training: Effective training programs to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices.
  • Vulnerability & Patch Management: Automated updates and critical patch deployment to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Dedicated Security Operations Team: Expert support to detect and respond to cyber threats, ensuring your organization remains secure.

Adopting these measures can help municipal IT leaders mitigate risks, protect sensitive data, and ensure continuity of essential services. If you need guidance on improving your municipality’s cybersecurity posture, visit Fusion Computing and reach out to our experts today.


The threat of cybercrime to municipal governments is real and growing. By enhancing email security, mandating cyber training, implementing robust authentication, and ensuring swift incident response, municipalities can significantly reduce their vulnerability to cyberattacks. Fusion Computing’s Managed Security Services are designed to help municipalities navigate these challenges, providing the tools and expertise needed to protect against evolving cyber threats.

For more information on how Fusion Computing can support your municipality’s cybersecurity efforts, contact us today.