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Saved by cybersecurity



Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs reported late last month that his office will offer cybersecurity training to all Illinois Funds and ePay participants. The ePay system covers various governmental transactions, including state-level permits. Illinois Funds is a state investment program which leverages economies of scale with the intent to achieve higher returns than a single office account might yield.

The plan for training follows news of a cyber ransom shutdown of an east coast oil pipeline and a regional meat-packing plant. The treasurer’s office reports that there have also been cybersecurity breaches in one Illinois county, a hospital network, and a school district. The treasurer’s office said, “In some cases, the intruders only sought to embarrass. In other cases, they demanded money….In all cases, human error unwittingly opened the door to the criminals.”

The Illinois Funds program was created in 1975, with more than 1,500 local and state agencies participating in the pool. Included are 695 units of local government, 106 agricultural and environmental agencies, and 478 public education institutions including school districts, library systems, community colleges, vocational schools, and universities.

The ePay system includes 37 state agencies, 15 universities and colleges, 30 county agencies, 199 cities and villages, 66 libraries, and nine park and recreation facilities.

The cybersecurity training offered will show participants how to identify typical fraud practices and recent trends–“what to look for and how to look for it.” Terms such as ransomware, spear phishing, and trojans will be defined and discussed.

There will be a “live-fire” online exercise to provide hands-on experience in dealing with potential threats. “Cybersecurity attacks are real,” Frerichs said. “That’s why we offer this free training.”

Patrick Stout is a Voice correspondent. Email with comments or questions on this story.

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