SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County is at risk of falling victim to a cyber attack, according to the 2019-20 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury.
According to a press release issued by the grand jury, a cyber-attack occurs at least every 39 seconds throughout the country. Across the entire globe, cyber-attacks have cost trillions of dollars in damages and repairs.
Research conducted by the grand jury determined that Santa Barbara County, the eight incorporated cities and the special districts with the county are "woefully ill-prepared" for a cyber attack.
A cyber-attack targeting Santa Barbara County could cripple services and data systems and could cost millions in repairs, the grand jury says.
Cyber security attacks include corruption or theft of data, denial of service, or complete destruction of critical data. Attacks could also affect critical services like water systems, electrical grids and communication systems.
The grand jury says cyber-attacks happen more often and are more widespread than most realize and attacks are likely to evolve and get worse
"There is a never-ending evolutionary race between attack and defense. In this digital world, local government entities, even small ones, are not immune and their risks will grow as automated attack methods increase," the report from the grand jury states.
The grand jury spoke with two cyber-security experts, attended a cyber-security summit and analyzed news reports from jurisdictions across the country before coming to their conclusion.
The grand jury's report found that most public entities do not have a designated person responsible for cyber-security and do not have adequate understanding of what communication and electronic systems they use and what data they maintain. It also found that many public entities in Santa Barbara County do not have cyber insurance - and the ones that do, might not have adequate coverage.
The report lists eight findings of shortcomings within Santa Barbara County and presents an equal amount of recommendations to correct the issues and prevent or mitigate the damage caused by possible cyber-attacks.
Each public entity that was evaluated now has 90 days to respond to the grand jury's report.
To read the grand jury's entire report, click here.
The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury is made up of volunteers from five supervisory districts. The grand jury is mandated by California law and serves as a watchdog and is tasked with evaluating and making recommendations to any city, county or special district agency that receives county funds.
For more information about the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, click here.