City utilizes Heartland cybersecurity program to identify system vulnerabilities

SBS Cybersecurity recently traveled to New Ulm, MN to evaluate their cybersecurity position.

Heartland partnered with SBS to help customers implement a solid framework to protect private data. SBS performed their Phase 1 assessment for the entire city of New Ulm. The goal of Phase 1 is to understand where cybersecurity risk is located.

“You would never leave your office at night without locking the doors,” said Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland. “Cybersecurity is the same concept – making sure the right locks are in place so intruders can’t get in to your system where they can steal data or hold your information hostage.”

Phase 1 includes identifying the city’s entire technology infrastructure, scanning the internal network to look for weak spots, providing documentation identifying the most and least risky uses of technology throughout the city, and a plan to improve their cybersecurity posture.

According to the city’s information technology supervisor Nathan Beran, New Ulm had a positive experience working with SBS.

“Their staff was very knowledgeable and professional. Having been through IT audits in other industries, it put me at ease knowing SBS was putting their best foot forward.”

Beran noted the results of the Phase 1 assessment weren’t overly surprising to them, but it provided confirmation on some weaknesses they had suspected.

“Having the report in hand with real data helps push the conversation about cybersecurity forward in a more meaningful way,” said Beran.

New Ulm is in the process of making a lot of changes based on the assessment.

“The audit helped drive home the fact that procedures and protocols are a key element that, while we weren’t overlooking them necessarily, some had definitely been pushed to the backburner.”

The city is considering implementing subsequent phases of SBS’s program, but first wants to ensure all fixes recommended in Phase 1 are implemented.

“Once we have ourselves in a better position, it’ll be time to look at what else we can do to improve our stance even more,” said Beran.

Overall, the city of New Ulm is glad Heartland has recognized cybersecurity as an area of high importance.

“Heartland’s partnership with SBS really helps a small utility like ours improve our security and find the support we need to move the issue forward within our organization. Their phased approach has been a great way for us to get started and get on the right path to verifiable cybersecurity improvements.”

Heartland will cover half the cost for any of our customers who implement Phase 1 or any of the other phases of SBS’s cybersecurity program. For more information about this program, contact Ann Hyland at 605-256-6536 or Rick Olivier at SBS at 605-270-3321.