Hackers and cybercriminals are identifying government municipalities and agencies because of their wealth of personally identifiable information and systems. Hospitals are particularly vulnerable to ransomware, as it’s a life-or-death situation to have access to the electronic health records that drive the hospital and decisions by the doctors and nurses. Here are four ways governments and agencies can boost their cyber-attack prevention level and awareness.
1. Create a Robust Cybersecurity Strategy
Aggressive may not be a term that you generally hear associated with IT teams, but it’s the correct term when it refers to how you should approach cybersecurity for any well-connected entity. The amount of personal data is subject to compliance requirements, and immediate notifications in the event of a breach may allow the organization to limit the scope of any attack. Putting these plans in place before there’s a problem may feel like an excessive investment, but the threat of a cyberattack is growing and expanding each year.
2. Limit Access for Employees and Contractors
Regularly reviewing the access levels of your employees and contractors may be the simple step that has the biggest benefit for your organization. Chances are, employees of government agencies have more access to private data than are strictly required for their daily work and contractor access is not always removed when their contract has expired. Putting a strict policy in place to control access levels helps protect your entity.
3. Reduce the Availability of Public WiFi to Access Internal Systems
Are your staff members accessing key business systems on the same WiFi that visitors use? If so, you’ve got a potential security breach waiting to happen. Your public WiFi should be on a completely different access level than that available for authorized users. This helps limit the access of unidentified or “lightly” identified individuals to the deep wells of information that are available within your government agency’s domain. Be sure you check for smart TVs and other connected devices when you’re reviewing WiFi access levels, as they can be a breach risk as well. Any type of device that connects to your network infrastructure could potentially be leveraged to infiltrate your organization.
4. Invest in Backup and Disaster Recovery
Is your data being backed up regularly, and do you have a disaster recovery strategy in place? Either your internal IT team or business partners need to have fully defined the requirements for your backup. While some entities need up-to-the-minute backups, others are comfortable with a backup strategy that provides incremental backups every few moments. With cloud-based data storage, there are fewer limitations on the amount of information captured or how often you are backing up your data from a cost perspective.
Understanding the risks associated with government agencies is the first step towards proactively protecting your organization. At Georgia State University’s Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group, we are actively working to systematically review the research and tools available to prevent the development and progression of cybercrimes. Learn more about the efforts of Georgia State University or view the highlights from our research faculty online today.