Category Archives: Best Practices

Evolving Cyberthreats Lead to Evolved Cybersecurity

With more people working from home, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Threat actors are becoming increasingly bold in their attacks and ransomware continues to be the preferred method of infiltration. Cybersecurity experts, however, are also adapting with the times by focusing on a previously overlooked aspect of ransomware attacks: dwell time.

According to cybersecurity news outlet Dark Reading, “dwell time” refers to “the length of time an interloper remains undetected inside the network.” They note that traditionally, ransomware attacks operate under “smash-and-grab” tactics. Where, once downloaded, malicious files attempt to encrypt as many files and workstations as possible. Now, though, these files are lingering, allowing operators to lurk in the shadows of a targeted network, studying how it operates and identifying valuable resources to exploit or hijack for bigger payoffs. Read more >

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Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

The latest trend in government is all about transparency—and the embrace of innovative technology by government is making it easier than ever to provide transparency simply, efficiently, and accurately.

It can, however, leave your agency exposed to the public, and they may have questions when looking at your budget and books. In this scenario, a good audit trail is essential because it can save your agency time, preserve its reputation, and minimize errors.

The concept is simple: changes to accounting records should be documented and saved for future reference. Software, such as the governmental accounting software offered by BMS, makes this process straightforward.  Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities | Comments Off on Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

American City & County magazine recently published an article detailing the misadventures of Jackson, Mississippi’s attempt to upgrade their water meter and billing systems after signing a contract with Siemens, Inc. The contract (signed in December of 2012) was supposed to generate 120 million dollars in guaranteed savings. However, incorrectly installed water meters and syncing issues with the city’s wireless networks led to residential customers being heavily overcharged while some industrial customers never even received a bill. The city’s attempts to rectify these problems led to increased operating costs and no savings, despite Siemen’s guarantee.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Jackson sued Siemens and local subcontractors over the debacle. Read more >

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The Purpose of Governmental Budgeting

The budget preparation process is an opportunity for an agency to collaboratively set and meet financial goals. So what may seem like a bunch of never-ending numbers on a spreadsheet is actually much more: a plan of action for the future of both the agency and the community it serves.

Since many of our clients are actively participating in preliminary budget preparation right now, we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the four goals of the budget process to highlight why it is so important.

The Four Goals of the Budget Preparation Process

1. Establish Goals to Guide Future Decision Making

The first step of budget preparation is to create a set of budgetary goals. Read more >

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How to Effectively Work from Home

While opportunities for telecommuting and remote work have become more prominent within the tech sector over the last few years, working from home is now a reality for many. This digital reinvention of the workplace can be a jarring transition from regular office life, but it doesn’t have to be.  

Unlike in Japan, most American tech workers are uniquely positioned, both logistically and culturally, to easily work from home due to increases in the availability of cloud technology and access to home Wi-Fi and personal computers. Efficiency, however, can be an issue. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to keep efficiency high or even increase it. Read more >

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Current Tax Season Scams

Tax season is now in full swing so it’s important to make sure you get a refund and not ripped off. Scammers are incredibly sneaky when it comes to exploiting people’s fears and tax-induced anxiety makes the IRS a perfect cover for shenanigans. Accordingly, we thought it beneficial to address a few common techniques (recently compiled by Infosec and reported on in the Washington Post) criminals currently employ to help ensure you know what to look out for this tax season.

Phishing

This approach is all bait—where scammers send seemingly legitimate emails that lure victims into downloading malicious software via link in order to gain access to their devices, and subsequently, their information. Read more >

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Be Your Own Hero: How to navigate the journey through cyber security

Imagine you’re at your desk receipting utility payments, answering phones and helping customers. It’s Friday and you’re cruising toward the weekend. With your day already half over, you leave for lunch with a smile. But when you return something is amiss.

You log back into your workstation and the screen flickers with static. A sinister winky-face emoji slowly emerges. Beneath it a “Donate Now” button flashes insistently.

You click around. Try to restart. But your entire system is locked. All you can do is click the Donate button. When you do, horns erupt from the emoji’s forehead and an evil laugh bursts from your speakers. Read more >

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No power? No Problem!

BMS was literally left in the dark with two consecutive, midweek power outages. The most recent lasted only a few minutes and served as a minor but exciting inconvenience, whereas the previous outage lasted quite a few hours after a frog tripped a breaker and shut down the entire county in a single leap. Absurd? Absolutely. Catastrophic? Not at all, but it easily could’ve been.

Fortunately, our office and network infrastructure are equipped for dealing with emergencies. Yet the event served as a teaching moment, a testament to precisely why planning for the worst is the best way to confront the unexpected when it rears its ugly head. Read more >

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Financial Data Transparency: Build Better Taxpayer Trust and Confidence

A recent Gallup poll shows Congressional approval at an unprecedented historical low of seventeen percent. There’s an endless amount of reasons one could posit as to why that is the case—political dysfunction, legislative gridlock, corruption, a lack of transparency, and virtually everything in between—but regardless, the level of distrust in governmental institutions is growing and even trickling down to the state and local level, which is frustrating for both elected representatives and their constituents.

Before we all sharpen our pitchforks, fire up the torches and start a revolution, though, there is a silver lining worthy of note: a growing trend of public institutions willing to share their financial data with the citizens they serve and a panoply of technological options to do so. Read more >

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Picking Good Passwords You’ll Actually Remember

Last weekend, I had a lot of online shopping to do!

I started clicking away, filling up my shopping cart, hit checkout and…declined?

“What?” I thought to myself. I just got paid! So, in complete meltdown mode I logged into my bank account and at the top of the transaction list I spotted several pending charges, including one for $1,400 to walmart.com. My card number had been stolen and my bank account was compromised.

I always thought I did everything possible to prevent being subject of an account hack or identity theft situation. I had a six-letter password, shredded all my bills and never gave up personal information on the phone. Read more >

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