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COMING UP:Share Opener Variant 1



>> There is a growing risk lurking under the surface fro municipal bond investors. It's cyber security. I'm Reuters' public finance reporter Hillary Russ. The $3.8 trillion municipal bond market is starting to wake up to the risk of cyber attacks. And the need for a little bit more disclosure for investors.
If you're a municipal bond investor particularly a mom and pop retain investor, and you want information about the cyber security of the bonds and the issuers that you're interested in invested in, you're going to have a very difficult time finding it. Most cities and states and other kinds of broad municipal bond issuers, towns, agencies, don't put a lot information or even any information in their bond offering documents.
The good news is things are starting to change. Credit rating agencies are beginning to look at this and try to figure out how they can incorporate, very broadly, some more information about cybersecurity for the issuers they rate. Cybersecurity is a huge threat, obviously, for everyone everywhere at this point, but we have seen a real increase over the past year or two, in ransomware attacks in particular.
We've seen, by some measures, a four-fold increase just over the past year or two. We've seen every kind of municipal issuer hit at this point. Hospitals and utilities were very early targets. They've stepped up their defenses, and they've also stepped up their disclosures. The one that really got me and that got me interested in this was a police department in Texas that was hit by ransomware.
They decided not to pay the ransom and so eight years of digital evidence was destroyed. And the only reason anyone found out about this early on was because they had to notify defense attorneys to tell them about the missing evidence. So I think it's a good idea for investors to start asking questions about cyber security and how it's playing into ratings and how it's playing into bond prices.
We haven't seen any big impact so far, but we're really just one big event away from seeing something potentially devastating happen.