The digital footprints of state and local governments are growing exponentially, leaving the public sector especially vulnerable to cyber attacks and breaches. Between employees using computers to access networks remotely, internet-connected technology such as red-light cameras and CCTVs, mapping and informational systems inside police and other government issued vehicles, and more, organizations must defend and monitor an ever growing number of end points and network infrastructures. Despite this need however, entities in the government sector are typically less prepared to handle an attack or breach than their counterparts in the private sector.
Think your organization might fall into this category? Here are five things you can do to start protecting your organization and networks today.
1. Know your vulnerabilities - Conduct a risk assessment to understand your network's weaknesses and vulnerabilities before your adversaries discover them.
2. Invest in cybersecurity expertise - Whether you hire in-house cybersecurity pros or outsource your risk mitigation to a third party, having experts who know what to look for, and defend against, is critical. If your public organization is unable to hire someone full-time, outsource your needs to a third-party MSSP that can monitor your systems 24/7, or offer ala carte services that fit your exact needs and timeline.
3. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when accessing systems remotely - This goes for employees working remotely and those accessing your network while traveling. A VPN provides a secure connection by creating an encrypted tunnel which protects your employee's remote connection from public access and potential cyber breaches.
4. Back up your data and systems - The best way to back up your data is to do so on external systems that can be unplugged and stored in a safe and secure location, away from the rest of your infrastructure. Doing so helps to defend your infrastructure against the threat of ransomware attacks.
5. Run regular penetration tests on your own systems - In addition to identifying vulnerabilities and prioritizing the mitigation of potential risks, penetration testing can also assist your organization in staying compliant and meeting industry standards and regulations. Conducting annual penetration tests can go a long way in demonstrating your organization's compliance readiness and avoiding hefty fines and fees.