Government agencies and social services organizations typically handle large amounts of sensitive and personal information about individuals that must be protected from cyber threats.
With the amount of confidential information resident on government systems, it is no surprise that nation-state cybercriminals are increasing targeting agencies — and those that do business with them — to exploit vulnerabilities.
The Office of Homeland Security received 28,000 reports of security incidents from executive branch civilian agencies alone in 2019.
With cyberattacks aimed toward these agencies — including insider threats — on the increase and new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) broadening the attack surface, the pressure is on to increase security.
To aid agencies in protecting their data, the General Administrative Office (GAO) recommends the following precautions for all organizations:
- Establish a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy with effective oversight,
- Secure all systems and information,
- Protect critical infrastructure,
- And protect privacy and sensitive data.
While those are wide-ranging and broad goals, let’s drill down to some very specific risks government agencies are currently facing.
Cybersecurity is Crucial for Government Entities to Protect Against Evolving Threats
Because of the volume and nature of data handled by government agencies and social services organizations, they are vulnerable to a series of risks and challenges that are different from the typical business entity.
- Contractor Vulnerabilities
First, agencies must acknowledge that vendors’ weaknesses are also their own since hackers are now targeting contractors’ infrastructure to gain access to their government agency partners’ databases.
Solve it: Ensure your agency vets contractor facilities and infrastructure using the same cybersecurity assessment criteria as you use for your own agency.
- Legacy System Weaknesses
Next, legacy systems may keep your organization moving forward, but they are often incompatible with newer, more secure technologies such as cloud computing and machine learning.
Solve it: Modernize your legacy systems by updating infrastructure and prioritizing cybersecurity from the beginning.
- Human Vulnerabilities
Social engineering, ransomware, and other tactics often target the weakest link in your security — employees who are unaware of vulnerabilities or who do not practice good cyber hygiene.
Solve it: Develop a cybersecurity best practices plan and implement training programs for all agencies and contractors to familiarize them with typical weaknesses and good security protocols.
- Big Data, Bigger Risks
Larger quantities of data increase the attack surface for agencies. Yet patchworked systems and disconnected interfaces and applications continue to increase the risk of data loss or compromise.
Solve it: Use assessments, analytics, and data mapping along the information life cycle to identify, curate, and secure data.
The most important weapon in combatting cyberthreats should be the proactive management of your cybersecurity protocols. Technological excellence, preventative actions, and ongoing training of users is critical in managing risks.
A strong disaster recovery strategy is essential in the even a hacker is successful in breaching your agency’s infrastructure. Having redundancies, routine backups, and a clear plan of action will go a long way toward minimizing downtime and damages in the event a breach occurs.
Trust Blue Technologies to Help You Protect Your Data Assets
Government agencies are in the crosshairs of hackers, but they are typically under strict budgets and have little — or no — internal IT support. While this makes it more difficult to defend against cybercriminals, it’s not impossible with the help of partners like Blue Technologies.
We understand that cybersecurity is crucial to government agencies. Our team of cybersecurity and Managed IT experts can assess your current infrastructure, identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and design a fully functional IT management and cybersecurity program to protect your data as it moves through its lifecycle.
Besides helping you update and manage the transition from legacy to modern technologies, we will prepare a robust backup and disaster recovery plan. This plan will ensure that your critical information remains available to you in the event of a breach so your agency can keep providing essential services to the public.
Finally, we will help you educate and train your personnel to identify potential threats and to practice good cyber hygiene in the workplace to minimize the chance that they will fall victim to credential theft or social engineering.
Let our team build, monitor, protect, and maintain a strong cybersecurity system for your organization. Contact a Blue Technologies consultant today and learn how we can help your agency minimize your risk of a successful cyberattack.