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September 27, 2021

Security in the public sector

When one considers “security” in the public sector, the first thing that springs to mind is bodyguards and heavily armed cavalcades. But in the Digital Age and the time of remote working, security is taking on a new, and more important meaning.

The UK government has had 352 weekly cyberattacks in 2021 alone, which is a 43% increase on previous years. In South Africa, three government agencies have experienced security breaches since July. Cyber criminals are targeting governments around the globe, and it’s easy to see why.

Government mines a huge amount of sensitive data on a daily basis, both detailing the functioning of government’s internal systems, and citizens’ private information. It’s a sitting duck for hackers, with a massive target on its back. What is even more concerning is that governments have been forced to operate remotely throughout the global pandemic, increasing security risks through employees working from home or using their own devices that haven’t been secured properly with enterprise-grade security.

Hackers and purveyors of ransomware in particular target individual users within an organisation, which once again specifically opens government up to attack. This is particularly true for entities operating with on-premise servers. Ransomware, phishing mails, and hacks can cause huge data and productivity loss within an organisation, and cost millions of Rands to repair and restore what was lost.

While technology is the threat, it is also the answer. There are numerous ways that government can protect itself against digital security threats; one of the most basic ways is to ensure that all systems are up to date.

Another option is to consider making use of cloud-based security algorithms, which constantly learn and detect what the latest threats are. Solutions like these automate security processes within an organisation, thereby removing both the threat, and the work it takes to defend sensitive data.

Considering a move to the cloud can assist with tightening security, as many cloud providers offer some form of advanced threat protection, along with learning algorithms that continuously protect systems, 24/7.

Besides this layer of security, removing data to an offsite location, with failovers and backups in other regions, protects against breaches and the disruption to work that a hacker or ransomware attack can cause.

Furthermore, cloud providers, such as Microsoft, not only offer enterprise-grade security across their offerings, but also physically secure their datacentres. For local government, it’s also critical to know that there are now datacentres on South African shores, so as to reduce any risk to privacy laws and policy.

There is a phrase that says, “fight fire with fire.” As long as cybercriminals are using digital tools to hack into sensitive government systems, it is up to the public sector to ensure that the systems deployed have the latest security updates and options available to protect critical and essential data, every day.

As a supplier of software to the public sector, Boxfusion understands how critical security is. This is why we have added essential security layers, such as two-factor authentication and regular password resets, into all of our solutions. To find out more about what we offer, head here.