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Worcester halts online spending posts due to cybersecurity concerns

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TLDR:

Worcester will no longer post spending online for public view due to cybersecurity concerns, marking a shift away from transparency that was initially hailed in 2010. City Manager Eric D. Batista cited concerns about cyberattacks and fraud as the reasons for removing the online vendor check register, which has been offline for over a year.

Article Summary:

In response to cybersecurity fears, Worcester has decided to stop posting tax dollars spent from its checkbook online. City Manager Eric D. Batista explained that the online vendor check register, initially launched in 2010 for transparency, is now seen as a liability for fraud due to the risk of cyberattacks. Many towns in Massachusetts had followed Worcester’s lead in posting financial information online, but now the city has taken a different direction citing privacy concerns.

Batista mentioned that the city had faced attempted fraud in the past, with hackers trying to obtain funding through the manipulation of vendor emails. The decision to remove the online register was made in late 2020, and a streamlined version was briefly available before being taken down as well.

The move has prompted questions about transparency and accessibility to financial information. While the data is still public and can be requested from the city, the decision to remove the online register has raised eyebrows among city councilors. Mayor Joseph M. Petty requested a report from Batista on the reasons for taking down the online vendor check register.

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