Public safety officials prepare Indy for chance of cyberattack

INDIANAPOLIS - The Department of Public Safety was ramping up its efforts to fend off attacks on any battlefield, especially in cyberspace.

The world has collected more data in the past five years than it did throughout history, and so it becomes more likely that we will be robbed, not by someone wearing a mask and carrying a gun, but by someone sitting in an Internet cafe with a computer.

For corporate America and the average citizen, the world has become a more dangerous place. Public safety officials said that some cities, including Indianapolis, could become the target of a simultaneous attack by cyberterrorists and conventional terrorists.

"Your 911 system could be affected. The response could be affected. Other crimes could be occurring in the cyberworld that you’re not realizing because you're so focused on the terrorist attack," Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said.

Public safety officials said that attempts have been made to hack into the city's $73 million communications platform -- the one that protects emergency radio, computer traffic and more than 1.4 million 911 calls per year.

At an undisclosed location, the system is a standalone network hardened against cyberattacks. The city has also reached out to its corporate partners to reduce their vulnerability to an attack.

"There's two things we're trying to do. Keep them from succumbing to a cyberattack. But if these systems do shut down, have the resilience to get back as quickly as possible," Riggs said.

Any citizen or business with a computer with a link to the Internet is vulnerable to a cyberattack from home or abroad and public safety officials say they understand that.

"I don't want anyone to get the misconception that we are 100 percent prepared. We are trying to get to that level. But I don't believe with all the scares and all the things we've seen throughout our lifetime, we will be 100 percent protected. But we need to do our best to get there," Riggs said.

In the coming weeks, the city will host a daylong cybersecurity summit. It will feature congressional and homeland security experts and corporate leaders.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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