Cyber threats continue to wreak havoc not only in the business world but in government agencies as well. Governments all around the world are now offering online services and functions as an attempt to improve how they cater to the needs of the public. But as they depend more on technology, cybercriminals are constantly on the move to exploit the weakness of the public sector.
There are government agencies that are taking cybersecurity for granted. Their main focus is to improve the online experience of the public. But then, failure to prioritize cybersecurity can put their pertinent data at an incredible risk.
Global governments these days face numerous challenges that put their online security at risk. Addressing the following areas will help better protect the public and ensure they get to cater to the best services expected from them.
Safeguarding Sensitive Data
Government agencies make use of, record, and store large volumes of data. This consists of consumer’s personal information as well as their employees’ information and other sensitive data. If the public sector continues to operate without much regard to the security of these sensitive data, such information will be compromised.
Cybercriminals can then exploit such data to perform various criminal acts. The problem is, basic cybersecurity is never enough for government agencies. They require the expertise of different companies offering varying services that can optimize website and application management and security. Companies offering network security services, for instance, can help agencies design a more secure platform and application. Such services protect an agency’s underlying network infrastructure to ensure physical and software security. Mitigating the risk for network intrusion is the first step towards cybersecurity.
Keeping Websites and Online Services Open 24/7
Some hackers would take down websites and certain site functions and applications to sabotage government agencies. Note that while government agencies often operate during business hours, it is crucial for their website to be available round the clock. There are simply some resources that the public needs access to no matter the time of the day.
This is especially true among agencies that are considered as information-providing entities. Consumers these days expect information to be available 24/7. Failure to meet such public expectations makes the government agency look less reliable.
Tight IT Budget
Unlike private companies, government agencies often work on a tight budget. Not all agencies are given enough budget to work on various tasks. Unfortunately, this puts the agencies at a disadvantage considering cybersecurity is never free nor easy. Sure, there are applications that can help better secure websites. But hackers are becoming better at what they do. Governments should not take the security of their online efforts just because of their lack of funds.
The problem is, network connectivity alone requires a significant amount of funds. Add the costs of cybersecurity and this can already cost agencies thousands of dollars each month. Since many of today’s agencies are still run by Baby Boomers, it can be quite hard to secure enough funding when the leaders themselves are unaware and unwilling to recognize the risks.
Lack of Collaboration and Action
Although some governments are collaborating with private businesses and organizations, the lack of collaboration and action is still pertinent in the modern world. We need to remember that not every country or state has reliable cybercrime laws. It can be difficult to stop punish cybercriminals when those involved are on foreign land.
In September of 2020 alone, alleged China-backed hackers compromised government agencies and firms. Many sectors including universities lost sensitive data with hackers exploiting the said firms. Without the collaboration and action of both the government, private entities, and other organizations, hackers will continue to leverage the vulnerabilities of these agencies.
It is important that government agencies also ensure cybersecurity within the organization. Inside jobs are never new to the world of cybercrime. Some employees have malicious intent to ruin the agency’s reputation.
This is one reason why agencies should be careful when giving access to files. There should be a policy in place that states who can have access to certain files and hardware. Minimizing the risk of insider attack is one good way to ensure no data is leaked to anyone with ill intentions. Government agencies often invest in the latest hardware and software. They think that these alone would be enough to secure their network. But we need to consider the fact that cybercriminals are becoming wiser and more cunning.
It only makes sense that governments should start prioritizing cybersecurity. This is not just to retain the public’s confidence. This also helps avoid millions worth of damages.