Presidio County Sheriff’s Office seeks cybersecurity and communications improvements – The Big Bend Sentinel

PRESIDIO COUNTY — During the past two Presidio County Commissioners Court meetings, representatives from the Sheriff’s Office have sought numerous grants to help strengthen the county’s cybersecurity and communications systems. Officials hope the improvements will benefit the county as a whole, rather than favoring any one department.

The push for stronger measures comes on the heels of the cybersecurity scandal faced by Brooks County, another small county near the border that faces many of the same budget constraints. Brooks County was targeted by a ransomware scam. The ransomware scam is a type of digital virus that required authorities to shell out his $250,000 to regain access to his online data.

While data security breaches can affect any government department, they are especially tricky for agencies that handle sensitive personal information: magistrates, sheriff’s offices, and to some extent county clerks. Online scams can also target finance departments with bank statements and other information that can leave county finances vulnerable.

Mark Hannan of Alpine-based Nectar Computers is the official technical support for the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office, which has more computers and technology equipment than any other department in the county. It is said that there is. He warned that potential cybercriminals are always several steps ahead of the best repair services. “You can spend millions of dollars on security, but at the end of the day, it’s about knowing it, implementing it, and responding to it,” he said.

Shana Elmore, executive assistant for the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office, said that among many other issues, power outages occurred during last summer’s busy Fourth of July period, and the Sheriff’s Department was unable to operate the county jail. He explained that he was particularly concerned about the state of the Sheriff’s Office’s technical resources since he was unable to do so. .

The department is working with outside consultants to draft a grant application to fill some of these gaps.

Another technical issue the sheriff’s office is working to correct is radio communication between officers on patrol in the county’s most remote areas. Two radio relay stations, one on Chinati Peak and the other on FM 170 along the river, have not been operational for years.

The department is working to meet the requirements for a state grant totaling $283,000 for system upgrades. The tower will also benefit the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, allowing them to share frequencies and communicate with local patrol units.
These towers primarily function to allow state and district level officials to communicate with each other. Customs and Border Protection operates its own system. Big Bend District Deputy Chief Constable Jaime Castillo explained that Sheriff’s Office staff can now use Border Patrol frequencies for emergency communications. “This capability is paramount in our collaborative efforts to help local partners keep our communities safe,” he said.

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