As technology advances, so do the ways that hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in systems. This is a concern for local governments as they increasingly rely on digital systems to manage everything from finances to public services. However, there are some steps that local governments can take to boost their cyber security and protect themselves from attack.
1. Eliminate Passwords for Staff and Use A Single Sign-On Approach Instead
Passwords are one of the weakest links in any organization’s cybersecurity posture. They can be easily guessed, stolen, or compromised. Eliminating passwords for staff and using a single sign-on approach instead will help reduce the risk of unauthorized access to government systems.
To implement a single sign-on solution, the government will need to invest in an identity management system. This will allow you to store and manage user credentials securely. Once this system is in place, all staff will need to use two-factor authentication when accessing sensitive data or programs.
2. Simplify IT Infrastructure
A complex IT infrastructure is more challenging to secure than a simple one. By simplifying IT infrastructure, the number of potential attack vectors can be reduced, making it easier to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.
One way to do this is to consolidate servers. This will reduce the number of systems that need to be secured and make it easier to patch vulnerabilities. Cloud-based solutions can also be an excellent consideration. Additionally, the government can use application whitelisting. This security measure allows specifying which applications are allowed to run on the systems. By only allowing trusted applications to execute, you can prevent malicious software from being installed.
3. Educate Employees About Cybersecurity
Employees should be aware of the potential risks associated with their work and how they can help to mitigate them. Ensure that all new employees receive training on the local government’s cybersecurity policies. All staff members should also be provided with ongoing education. This could include sending out monthly newsletters or hosting webinars on various topics.
In addition, the government should implement a reporting process for employees to report any suspicious activity. Creating a culture of security within the organization will help to reduce the risk of a successful cyber attack.
4. Implement Strong Access Control Measures
Access control measures are critical for keeping the systems secure. Government entities should consider using both physical and logical access controls. Physical access controls, such as security guards or turnstiles, can prevent unauthorized individuals from entering protected facilities. Logical access controls, such as user permissions or encryption, can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information.
5. Monitor Systems for Suspicious Activity
It’s crucial to continuously monitor the systems for signs of suspicious activity. This could include unusual login attempts, unexpected file changes, or strange network traffic. If there’re any suspicions that the systems have been compromised, take immediate action to contain the threat and limit the damage.
6. Update the Systems Regularly
Local governments should regularly update their systems to ensure that they are protected against the latest threats. This includes installing security patches, updating antivirus software, and upgrading to the latest versions of critical applications.
The importance of cybersecurity for local governments cannot be overstated. The risk posed by malicious actors is significant and the consequences can be catastrophic. To that end, it’s essential to implement a wide range of measures that will help reduce risk exposure while ensuring protection against the latest cyber threats.