FILE - GA Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has stepped in to increase cybersecurity after several state and county agencies took a bruising from cybercriminals in the last six weeks.

Kemp signed an executive order this week that reignites a state cybersecurity board and mandates cybersecurity training for state employees.

“The State of Georgia must take immediate and comprehensive action to better defend against cyber intrusions, prioritize intergovernmental cybersecurity, and enhance the protection of critical data,” the governor’s order states.

Kemp ordered more members of his administration be added to the State Government Systems Cybersecurity Board. The board, which was created in 2015, will include the heads of the state's security agencies including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia Technology Authority. 

The board will be responsible for monitoring the state's cyber universe and creating coursework for mandatory cybersecurity training for state employees twice a year.

Last month, cybercriminals tried to hijack Georgia's Department of Public Safety, Henry County, Lawrenceville Police Department and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency’s servers with malicious software.

Many of the attacks were confirmed as ransomware attempts, where hackers asked for money in return for reversing corruption to the database. 

But due to quick reactions and cyber sweeps by security software and IT personnel, none of the July attacks resulted in payoffs by the victims. However, the software and recovery efforts crippled the servers.

Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Court website was shut down for several weeks following a malware attack in late June.

Malware can infect a database through fake emails, bogus links and external devices such as flash drives and more.

Kemp could not be immediately reached for comment, but he told WSB-TV Atlanta he hopes the training will reduce attacks.

"It is frustrating, but you also have to be realistic. It's gonna happen. It happens everywhere. We might as well own it and be as prepared as we can and train our people so we can cut down on the number of instances," Kemp told WSB-TV.

Staff Writer

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.