California JPIA logoAs cyber threats evolve, the importance of proactive cybersecurity initiatives increases. The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA)commends the City of Aliso Viejo for prioritizing cybersecurity preparedness with its recent Cyber Attack Tabletop Exercise. This exercise is the first in which the Authority and Insurance Programs Manager Jim Thyden have participated with a member agency.

The tabletop exercise, organized by the City of Aliso Viejo, was a strategic simulation of a ransomware attack and brought together department heads, information technology staff and partner agencies. For two hours, tabletop participants ran through—in real time—the various protocols, processes and communication channels required to respond to the model scenario.

“Our goal with the tabletop exercise was to nail down the internal and external communication protocols,” said Aliso Viejo Senior Emergency Management Program Coordinator Sarah Limones. “As a contract city, Aliso Viejo contracts many of its services to different entities. We wanted to bring those partners together to ensure our cyber-attack response was well-coordinated and effective.”

The exercise drew out the complexities of a municipal cyber-attack response and the various inter-and intra-agency coordination. Participants transcended a technical discussion to focus on higher-level decision-making and strategies, which resulted in an improved and streamlined response plan. During the simulation, discussions ranged from public information management to continuing City services to financial and legal implications.

In addition to Aliso Viejo staff, the tabletop exercise engaged Orange County Sheriff’s Department members, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center and even the Department of Homeland Security.

During the exercise, Thyden shared resources, recommendations and processes to consider from a risk management perspective.

“Jim provided a wealth of knowledge and resources that we had no idea the California JPIA offered its member agencies,” said Limones. “That was a big lesson: That the City doesn’t have to do all of it on our own. The California JPIA has a lot of resources for us.”

Thyden applauded Aliso Viejo for coordinating the Cyber Attack Tabletop Exercise, which left the City and its agency partners better prepared for a future cyber threat.

“A tabletop exercise is immensely valuable because it is the only way to properly prepare for a scenario that has not happened but could happen,” said Thyden. “With the right assembled team and the right tabletop exercise, cities like Aliso Viejo can dramatically improve their cybersecurity preparedness.”

About the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority

Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 45 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 125 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at