Rising Cyberattacks Prompt Urgent Need for Modernized First Responder Tech Systems

As cyber threats escalate, first responders face mounting challenges, highlighting the necessity for upgraded technology and enhanced cybersecurity measures to protect communities

The past few years have seen a startling uptick in cyberattacks, and 2024 is on pace to see many more. Recent breaches at government agencies and major corporations illuminate the critical need for organizations to take a hard look at their security posture and overarching cybersecurity strategy to ensure their internal teams, customers and other stakeholders are protected against these malicious actors. 

This is why it’s imperative to modernize, across all industries, to be sure organizations are protected from all angles. However, one industry in particular is voicing their concerns: first responders.

With these major attacks making national headlines on a consistent basis, it’s no surprise that both public safety professionals and the communities they serve are beginning to worry. 

It’s in the numbers

A national online survey of general consumers shows that Americans fear the continued prevalence of cyberattacks. Many are looking to first responders to help keep their data secure, but even first responders admit to not being immune in the current landscape: A survey of public safety professionals across the U.S. reveals 91% of first responders admit to dealing with a cyber incident in 2023, like phishing, scam calls and malware attacks.

Public safety agencies may still be using legacy technology systems, which can mean using outdated, on-premises hardware that is vulnerable to outages, affecting mobility, resiliency, and data accuracy. By not investing in modern cloud-native technology, law enforcement agencies are leaving the door open to emergency systems failing, directly impacting the communities they serve.  

In addition to their personal experience with cyber incidents, 82% of first responders surveyed reveal worries that their organization’s data could be stolen or fall victim to ransomware, and a near-total majority (92%) are concerned about how their agencies would handle a tactical response to cyberattacks or physical attacks at large-scale events. 

There also is a price associated with a cyber incident, directly affecting agency budgets and taxpayer dollars, creating an urgency for more cost-effective solutions: The global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years [IBM].

A closer look

These cyber concerns at the macro level are also affecting local communities across the U.S., inspiring many to think hard about how they can better equip their first responders with the tools needed to better safeguard their constituents.

Digging deeper into state-specific insights, a new survey of Massachusetts residents reveals calls for increased funding to support their local public safety agency’s investment in modernized technology. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed admit to fearing man-made disasters like cyberattacks, and 93% would be at least somewhat or extremely concerned if they learned their local agency was using outdated technology. Specifically, 38% fear records aren’t being kept appropriately or confidentially due to unsecure systems at risk for data breaches, noting some first responders might lose important data when going back to the station house to do paperwork.

As more community governments experience the negative effects of cyberattacks, like Lowell, Massachusetts last year and, just recently, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, shoring up first responders’ tech systems is no longer a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have. 

What’s ahead

Looking ahead, current cybersecurity forecasts show cybercrime is expected to cost the world $9.5 trillion in 2024, and these damage costs are expected to grow by 15% over the next two years, reaching $10.5 trillion in 2025. 

It’s no surprise the discussion surrounding cybersecurity and disaster preparedness is intensifying, and new solutions are being brought to market to help mitigate potential catastrophic outcomes. To best protect first responders and those they serve, transitioning to cloud-native software with the highest security posture will give people the peace of mind they need to know they’re protected against nefarious attacks. 

In the age of digital transformation, these data trends demonstrate the right technology is one of the few ways we can keep up with ever-growing cybercrime.

Matt Polega  
Matt Polega is the Co-Founder and President at Mark43, where he oversees all planning and execution of all outward-facing Mark43 efforts, including company and product brand, positioning, thought leadership, employer branding, and public relations. Matt developed the earliest iteration of the Mark43 RMS, and he remains deeply connected to the mission and what it takes to build effective public safety technology.

In 2015, Matt was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Enterprise Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer

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