Pierce County, Tacoma, is watching Russian cyber activities

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the local authorities of Pier County are preparing for possible cyber attacks on the Internet, transport and wastewater treatment systems.

Last year, Russian hackers got into a big oil pipeline in Houston, one of the country’s largest meat processing plant and the local school district Clover Park.

Security experts told USA Today that due to the fact that the United States has imposed sanctions against Russia, it is only a matter of time before the nation becomes a more direct target.

Emergency officials across Washington have been made aware of the possibility of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, Tacoma’s emergency management department said recently.

“In response, city departments were asked to consider how they send and store information, and to keep in mind those critical systems that could become a potential focal point for a cyberattack,” the department said.

Tacoma employees are advised to be careful with sending some information via email and be aware of phishing attempts. Tacoma’s Emergency Management Division said that if changes need to be made, staff are “encouraged to do so until the alleged threat of a cyber attack is as alarming as it is now.”

There are no reliable specific threats to Pier County.

“We work with regional, state and federal partners to monitor and address any activity,” said Mike Halliday, a spokesman for the Emergency Management Agency.

Tacoma declined to say whether there was a credible cybersecurity threat to the city’s infrastructure.

“The city regularly evaluates and changes its security profile to protect common and critical systems,” said city emergency officials. “Information on whether changes are being made or not is a fundamental part of this security effort and is therefore not disseminated outside the organization.”

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County Government News for The News Tribune.

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