How to mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities faced in the public...
Govciooutlook

How to mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities faced in the public sector

Catalina Joseph, Gov CIO Outlook | Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Government officials and business stakeholders must be equally aware and active on this critical topic to avoid future privacy breaches resulting in the exposure of GDPR penalties and service users' data in the wild.

FREMONT, CA: Data demonstrating that local and regional entities face an average of 19.5 million cyber-attacks per year, equal to 37 cyber-attacks per minute, has made it necessary for those institutions to recognize the severe nature of this threat. To secure vital facilities and sensitive data, all government levels must be aware of the gaps in their digital environment and the tools required to counter this growing threat.

Recognizing the Threat

Comprehension of core vulnerabilities is vital to implementing an efficient and sustainable cyber defense policy, which is not as complicated as it would initially seem. Many cybercriminals pursue the same attack paths, attacking similar properties and benefiting from a lack of a more extraordinary view of their tactics. One 2018 survey showed that three out of four councils did not offer mandatory cybersecurity training to employees, with 16 percent not offering any training at all. Training is just one aspect of the puzzle, but all companies, large and small, benefit from more successful security train. This aspect extends to IT departments as much as it does to the staff in other parts of the company, as individual sections of the IT estate may be overlooked or believed to be secure while they truly need further attention.

There are a host of advantages to the broader advances in the digitization of technology by local authorities. These include data-driven budget and cost utilization enhancements, more targeted end-to-end service delivery, and improved crisis management capability. However, as almost half of the UK councils have been attacked by cybercriminals since the beginning of 2017, local authorities need to consider the existence of their cyber vulnerabilities. And, provided the opportunities of digitization, it is the authorities' duty to be involved in designing and tracking their own digital defense strategies.

Key Considerations

Cyber protection must be a central concern for local councils, even though finances are under pressure. In the local government, the effect of any cyber threat can be harmful to stakeholders, ranging from public servants to community service consumers. Operational culture with an emphasis on protection starts with leadership – and this must come from the top of the organization, not just the top of the IT work. Government officials and business stakeholders must be equally aware and active on this critical topic to avoid future privacy breaches resulting in the exposure of GDPR penalties and service users' data in the wild.

Knowledge of the value of data protection must be nurtured across all regions and local government divisions to prevent the doomsday scenario of a significant data leak or a debilitating ransomware assault. A secure infrastructure can ensure that all critical data are backed up to minimize the worst consequences of human error or cyber-attack. At the same time, knowledge of protection in all activities and data production is of utmost importance.

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