It can often take a long time to get updated security hardware and software through a long approvals process, meaning your government entity may be utilizing older technology that may be less secure. Cloud-based components do help with keeping data safe from breaches, but only if properly implemented. With all of these difficulties to overcome, creating a secure cyber environment is a key necessity.
The 2018 Thales Data Threat Report notes that not only are government entities experiencing more cyber crime than ever before, government agencies are more likely to experience a data breach than non-U.S. government entities. The study shows that federal agencies were more than twice as likely as public sector agencies to be the target of a cyber attack. The large amount of personal and confidential data that is gathered and stored by the U.S. government makes it a prime target for cybercriminals. This situation is made worse by limited budgets, aging hardware and a lack of funding for upgrades. Government IT departments are facing an uphill challenge, with hiring freezes that limit the personnel available for critical security updates and software patches. The large number of contractors currently working in the government is also of concern. Government agencies working with contractors do not have direct control over their security practices and many of these companies have suffered breaches since 2016.
The cost of data breaches within the government is difficult if not impossible to estimate. On top of the direct costs of informing partners and the public that their data has been infiltrated, there are an increasing number of class-action lawsuits seeking damages due to poor handling of sensitive data. One example is the $1 million lawsuit brought against a local child-support investigator who inappropriately accessed nearly 400 driving records without receiving authorization. The suit claims that the county had insufficient procedures in place, and failed to appropriately protect the data. A similar lawsuit in Minnesota ended with the county agreeing to pay $2 million in taxpayer funds to settle. Yet another massive breach at the Maricopa County Community College cost taxpayers up to $26 million, including $7.5 million in consulting and network upgrade fees.
Protecting your government organization means keeping software and hardware updated, enforcing security policies, and regular and redundant backups. A key way that agencies are able to ameliorate the costs and impact of a data breach is through immediate communication with staff and all those who were potentially impacted. If your organization doesn’t realize the full extent of the issue until weeks, months or even years later, the damage has likely been done and it is much more difficult to come back and make your constituents whole.
However, if you can rapidly notify others throughout the IT department that there has been an abnormality that needs review, it’s much more likely that the data breach is discovered quickly, improving the odds of a more positive outcome. Having access to a platform that provides easy SMS text messaging, email and voice messaging allows you to broadcast your message and reset to a corrective course much more rapidly.
Don’t leave the security of your government agency in the hands of contractors. Instead, make the proactive changes that you need in order to stay fully compliant with best practices from around the cybersecurity community. The professionals at OnSolve will work closely with you to determine needs and make a unique recommendation for your organization that will help keep your constituents protected. Contact us today at 866-939-0911 or fill out our online form for a call back.