Telecommunications committee assessing township’s cybersecurity

At a recent council meeting, the question came up innocently enough. A resident asked council just how secure Moorestown Township’s network is against a cyber attack. So, Moorestown Telecommunications & Technology Committee was recently tasked with assessing the township’s cybersecurity. 

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Thomas Ward, the committee’s chairperson, said while he can’t fully reveal all of the steps the township has taken to protect itself, at the end of their recent assessment, the committee was left satisfied with what’s being done.

Ward said the committee met with the township’s information technology staff to review how the township would protect itself from a cyber attack. They made inquiries about how employees are being trained to protect against phishing attacks and what specific steps are taken to ensure systems are secured. 

“Those discussions are necessarily being limited to protect against broadcasting strengths and weaknesses in a public setting,” Ward said. 

He said the committee has also been consulted by township staff on various specific ideas to protect against cyber attacks on the township’s water and sewer plants and have provided feedback when appropriate.

Over the last few years, the township has been attacked, but never on a severe level. Ward said they were able to fully recover because of the systems they have in place and used these instances to make additional preparations moving forward.  

The assessment came after a bit of slow period for the Telecommunications & Technology Committee, which did not meet at all in 2018. Ward said he isn’t entirely certain why they didn’t meet that year, but he assumes there weren’t any pressing issues for them to tend to at the time.

Over the years, the committee has met on an “as needed” basis, according to Ward. The committee consists of seven volunteers of varying technological savviness. When there are technological issues before the council that they wanted additional analysis on, they’ve turned to the committee since around 1998. 

“Those issues evolve and change, just as technology evolves and changes,” Ward said.

Most recently, the committee has picked back up having been tasked with ongoing work on the township’s website. Ward said they’re trying to determine ways to improve the value of the township’s website. 

He said their data indicates the township’s website isn’t being utilized by residents as much as it could be. He said the number of hits they get from within Moorestown is small compared to outside the area. While these numbers could be skewed by residents accessing the website at work or other places outside of Mooretown, they’re looking into how to make the website more accessible and appealing to residents. 

Ward said the committee has a few other initiatives in the work, including assessing different ways to utilize the township’s fiber optic network, and now that the committee is back up and running, it’s been “a good year” of tackling issues as they come down the line. 

Telecommunications & Technology Committee meetings are open to the public. To learn more about the committee or to see their meeting schedule, visit www.moorestown.nj.us.

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