With hacking and ransomware attacks on the rise, all entities in New Jersey may soon be required to conduct an in-depth review of their cybersecurity systems.

A measure, S484, sponsored by state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, calls for each department of state government, each state college and university and each municipality, county and school district to review its cybersecurity infrastructure, evaluate its effectiveness and identify any high-risk issues.

He said the review would also have each entity offer possible strategies to modernize their systems and have them recommend any changes to laws, regulations or policies they believe would enhance security practices.

Suebsiri GettyImages
Suebsiri GettyImages

It's a growing challenge

“We’ve seen a number of attacks, cybersecurity attacks, hacker attacks that are happening in government entities, we saw recently Somerset County, where their entire IT system was taken down,” said Gopal.

“We’re seeing a lot of fraud happening and a lot of constituents that are getting swindled. I think this is something we need to make significant investments in, cybersecurity is probably one of the greatest security threats we face.”

He pointed out that many computer databases “have become attractive targets for cybercriminals, making the information potentially vulnerable to theft and misuse.”

BrianAJackson GettyImages
BrianAJackson GettyImages

Help is available

Gopal said the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has an entire department dedicated to cybersecurity, and grant money and other resources are available to help bolster cybersecurity across the Garden State.

He said many entities are already working on improving cybersecurity but “we want to make sure everybody is doing this when we see a rise of internet threats that have been happening.”

The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, has passed the Upper House and is now being considered by the Assembly Homeland Security Committee.

It would require the head or governing body of each government entity, as the case may be, to report the findings and recommendations from the internal review to the Governor and the Legislature no later than 45 days following the effective date of the bill.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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