Federal, state and local governments sit atop a wealth of data due to the range of services provided to businesses and citizens. As a result, no matter the type of agency, its mission or size, cybersecurity remains a top priority––even when the agency has its own internal security team or relies on an outsourced Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), or a combination of both.
Despite the variations in how agencies operate and serve citizens, there are more commonalities than differences when it comes to protecting their networks. Here are five cybersecurity tips that can benefit government entities at every level.
Find the balance between “Security” and “Access.” Network security, by its very nature, adds friction to the user experience. It slows things down. Unfortunately, too much friction can prompt employees to find workarounds or for constituents to abandon an application process altogether. For those reasons, agencies need to carefully consider the balance between protecting their networks and providing a relatively positive (or merely neutral) experience when it comes to accessing the network.
Train employees on good security practices. Network security is only as effective as peoples’ behaviors and actions––that includes those of agency leaders as well as frontline employees. In fact, in Cybersecurity's Greatest Insider Threat Is In The C-Suite, Forbes noted that 78% of IT leaders say the C-Suite is the most likely to be targeted by phishing attacks. Providing purposeful security training to every leader, employee and subcontractor can mitigate those risks.
Join InfraGard, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and members of the private and public sectors. InfraGard provides education, information and workshops on emerging technologies and threats so enterprises can stay well-informed. Members include military and government officials, state and local law enforcement, business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, security personnel and IT professionals —all dedicated to contributing industry-specific insight and advancing national security.
Scrutinize the Point of Sale (POS) system. POS systems have evolved far beyond transaction engines. Today, they integrate with innovative third-party APIs, like online order platforms, and with back-office software and enterprise applications. They can be connected to smart devices, like scanners, speakers, cameras and even lighting. Many also support the digital experience, be it mobile tour guide apps or renewing driver licenses at the DMV. Every device and endpoint on the POS increases breach risk for an agency––which means each of these endpoints needs to be protected to reduce these risks for both the government and citizens.
Recognize that technology innovation can also be adopted by hackers. The cybersecurity threat landscape changes at warp speed. As an example, there is a groundswell of attention on how artificial intelligence (AI) is being used for nefarious activities, like the creation of deepfakes––which become more realistic each year. One prediction is that by 2025, deepfake AI “people” will enter the workforce. Having fakes or frauds in the workplace means agencies will be at significantly higher risk for a breach initiated from inside the network. How might the government protect itself? One way is to have new remote workers go in person to a satellite facility for background checks.
While there are many different approaches to network security, every government agency—regardless of its size, shape or structure—should take the opportunity to evaluate its strategy as new threats continue to emerge. Implementing these five tips can help ensure you are on your way to protecting your agency, its data and ultimately, your constituents.
Not sure where to begin when it comes to cybersecurity for your agency? Engaging an industry partner that is also a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) -- such as Hughes -- ensures that your organization is protected under any circumstance. Whether you’re using terrestrial broadband, 5G, satellite, or some combination of transports, and even if you have an in-house IT team, an MSSP can complement your existing resources to improve security and enable the mission.
To learn more about how government agencies can protect their networks, go here.