State and local government networks generate and operate with a wide array of sensitive information, such as:
- citizen records including bank information
- information about government organizations & processes
- municipal employee records
That makes them an attractive target for cybercriminals who profit from stealing and exploiting that data.
The cybersecurity challenges facing local governments are more prominent than ever. Here are five of the most prevalent ones:
1. Attacks Becoming Increasingly More Sophisticated
Cyber attackers continually expand their knowledge and their arsenal.
We’ve seen how their tactics have evolved and adapted to exploit any vulnerability. And there’s no sign pointing to cyber criminals suddenly taking a break.
In fact, we’ve seen examples of them working together to plan coordinated, complex attacks against a common target.
What happens when local governments misperceive the potential complexity of a cyber-attack? Sensitive data becomes vulnerable.
2. Lack of Financial Resources to Tackle Cybersecurity Challenges
Just like a business, local governments have to work within limits imposed by their available budget.
Cyber-attacks have increased not only in frequency but also in terms of sophistication. Still, municipalities’ efforts to fight against them are severely underfunded.
The average state or local government agency spends less than 5% of its IT budget on cybersecurity.
Compared to large enterprises, local governments spend significantly less on protecting their data. But face the same kind of risks. You can see why this is a major problem.
The lack of budget often comes with a lack of skills, a topic we’ll discuss more in-depth in the following lines.
3. Handle the Problem of Insufficient and Untrained Staff
A major cybersecurity issue local governments face is finding the brainpower needed to protect data.
The human factor is often misperceived and minimized as importance when in reality it’s a crucial element.
Data security starts with the people handling sensitive data.
Someone who doesn’t have appropriate security skills can unintentionally create vulnerabilities within a network. And thus make it much easier for a hacker to access data.
Training requires additional costs, something that doesn’t fair well with a limited budget.
An alternative to in-house staff and training is hiring a cyber security professional that can offer an all-around solution.
4. Recovering after a Data Breach
Safeguarding sensitive data is one of the main challenges municipalities have to face.
When cities and counties fail to secure sensitive data, citizens suffer direct harm.
It’s not a coincidence that The 2016 Cybersecurity Survey by NASCIO lists security as the number one priority for government CIOs (State Chief Information Security Officers).
But it’s not only important to know how to prevent a cyber-attack. Organizations need to be able to expect an attack and think about the best ways to recover from it.
And this can be quite a challenge.
It’s better to assume an attack is going to happen and prepare for the eventuality than be caught off-guard.
5. Adapting to an Ever-Changing Security Landscape
Maybe one of the biggest cybersecurity challenges concerns the basic nature of cyberspace. This environment is constantly evolving. And with change comes a new set of challenges.
When it comes to cybersecurity, municipalities can’t actually see the enemy. But the threat is real, and it often shifts its form.
So how can municipalities turn these cybersecurity challenges into progress?
By improving their cyber-supported infrastructures, as well as the associated internal processes. That, combined with increased awareness gives them the best chances to fight against today’s obstacles.
However, assuming required technical and procedural safeguards may be a challenge in itself. We can make the entire process a lot easier. Get in touch with us today and learn more about the municipal cyber-defense services we provide.
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