In 2019, a wave of cyberattacks hit at least 22 Texas counties. In Potter County, which is home to Amarillo, a malicious email made the rounds, brought down the machines used by 600 people and ultimately cost more than $250,000.
Cybersecurity starts with people, and the Texas Legislature has ordered counties to beef up their training. The state requires that county employees and officials who have access to a local government computer system or database and who use a computer to perform at least 25% of their duties must complete a cybersecurity course each year. The class must be approved by the Texas Department of Information Resources.
To help counties meet this requirement, the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) is offering a free, state-certified cybersecurity course on its new, in-house learning management system, known as County Academy.
TAC offers several ways to sign up — email, DocuSign and fax — and counties are encouraged to enroll all their staff members and officials for the 45-minute online class. You may submit an enrollment form and a list of your county's personnel at www.county.org/cybersecurity. Registration closes July 29, and counties must report their completion of the course to the Department of Information Resources by Aug. 31.
In May 2021, state lawmakers added a penalty for counties that do not meet the requirement. Those counties may have to repay certain grants or may be ineligible for some grants. For more information, contact TAC's Cybersecurity Training Support Team by phone at (800) 456-5974 or by email at SecurityTraining@county.org.