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Cybersecurity applied to the public sector

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Online frauds and data breaches have now become a regular thing that calls for a robust strategy to prevent fraud and cybersecurity. Though headlines are usually grabbed by the private sector, the public sector faces similar incidents often.

A public sector organization has the responsibility of serving the public with the utmost efficiency. Due to the presence of your organization and many others in the public sector, citizens get easy access to education, libraries, healthcare, parks, etc.

Similarly, the judicial system, defense and law enforcement, and such other government establishments form a critical part of the society. And because of their crucial role, these organizations and departments are becoming the main targets of cybercriminals.  In recent years, even high-profile events like Olympics and elections also became the victims of cyberattacks. These recent cyber-attacks have compelled government organizations to keep cybersecurity as a top priority and investing in offense-oriented cybersecurity.

Such measures will safeguard the confidential information of your organization, mitigating the risk of a cyberattack, and thus help you to serve better. 

Common cybersecurity threats faced by the public sector 

Malware, ransomware, and phishing are some of the threats that are commonly faced by the public sector. Personal data-stealing is often used for committing identity thefts and online frauds. public sector organizations are also at risk from cyber espionage, illegal crypto mining, and supply chain attacks. These security threats may seem to be more significant and impactful but there are many other areas to be concerned for like data leakage, it may seem to be less impactful but it has more importance when it comes to reputation. 

Sometimes, public sector employees may lose crucial data through laptops, smartphones, or tablets stolen or forgotten in public transportation or accessing WiFi from public points. And most of the successful cyber fraud cases are a result of mistakes by insiders such as through businesses emails or phishing emails.

But what concerns the most is the failure of the public sector organizations to fix the known vulnerabilities. As per the research of Ponemon institute, around 56% of the respondents said that they are at a disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities because their organization uses manual methods. While around 51% of the respondents said that the security of their organization is spending more time navigating the manual methods than response to the vulnerabilities which finally results in a huge backlog. 

Cybersecurity practices to guard against threats in the public sector

1. Create a cybersecurity advisory council 

If public sector organizations want to implement cybersecurity practices they need to seek help from industry and academics disciplines as they have the expertise in this area. Government organizations should capitalize on these assets and form a cybersecurity advisory council. With the help of such a council, they can implement the best cyber practices and protect themselves from potential threats.

2. Establish a cybersecurity culture

Every organization’s strength lies in its workforce. To tackle the problem of cybersecurity, it is essential to empower your workforce with skills and knowledge about cybersecurity. This will help them to be aware of attacks, be cautious, and take the necessary steps to avert the occurrence of cyber-attacks. To achieve a cybersecurity culture, organizations should impart cybersecurity training to all their employees.

3. Cyber Insurance as protection 

One of the ways to protect state assets is by way of cyber insurance for risks that cannot be avoided. Though cyber insurance cannot be treated as a substitute for robust security practices, it definitely has many benefits. Only those organizations that follow a certain set of security practices like staff training, updating servers, and encrypting sensitive information qualify for such insurance benefits. Thus, public sector entities are forced to implement the best practices and improve the overall technology system and data protection.

4. Cybersecurity as a part of standard guidelines 

The need of the hour is to adopt federal frameworks to lay a strong foundation for effective cybersecurity policy. With the help of framework, organizations will be able to understand their cyber risk. Once they know the risks they will be in a better position to apply the security practices and adopt methods to safeguard critical infrastructure.

5. Resources for enhancing the integrity of elections 

For enhancing the integrity of elections new resources have been provided to the states. These include federal funding for securing elections, technologies protecting election campaigns, post-election audit support, and much more. By leveraging these new resources the states can work towards securing the integrity of elections and do their bit.

6. Implementation of strong procurement policies and compliance 

As the states are handling huge volumes of data, their responsibility towards legal and regulatory compliance also stands increased. The states need to carefully examine their procurement policies and ensure that the vendors reassure compliance with the help of their tools and services. Only by implementing strict policies and ensuring its compliance at every stage, organizations can achieve their cybersecurity goals successfully.

7. Strategic planning should include cyber resilience at every step 

While public sector organizations develop and implement strategies for protecting their IT assets from cybercrimes, it is essential that they also make the services data resilient. This means that the state networks must be in a position to adapt, recover, and continue operating even when cyber-attacks happen. Developing cyber resilience will not only make the organization more secure, it will also enable them to build long-term strategies and match steps with digital transformation.

Since policymakers play a crucial role they must put their best foot forward to make thoughtful and multidisciplinary decisions. By doing so, they can successfully fulfill the needs of their population, meet the changing expectations of the government services, and the uncertainties associated with cybersecurity. By adhering to the seven principles stated above states can set realistic cyber protection goals and protect their information and citizens too.


To sum up, public sector entities need to create a robust security barrier around their IT assets. By adopting effective cybersecurity policies, adhering to the security protocols, and being vigilant, the public sector can amp up its security standards. At CEdge, we understand these challenges, and design and implement a security framework for public sector customers to create a competitive advantage.

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