6 Tips for Securing Information in Central Government

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As a government organization, you’re held to a higher standard of security. You collect sensitive information daily, and a breach could be catastrophic for your constituents and your operations. Ensuring that you have adequate privacy and data protection is vital to remaining strong and in the good grace of the people. Here are a few things you should be doing.

1. Use Trusted Data Centers

Although many companies, government entities included, are moving to the cloud, some organizations prefer the security of a data center. Although data centers can be hacked, or information can be damaged, they’re often significantly more secure than any other option.

If you’re going to use a data center, use one with radiation-hardened processors. This is what the DoD and other government entities use as the most reliable and technologically advanced solution for data.

2. Stop the BYOD Movement

In the last presidential election, Hillary Clinton received a lot of backlash for mingling her personal emails with her professional ones. It’s still a little fuzzy what happened in that incident because she was using her private email where there are fewer restrictions and controls.

Clinton isn’t the only one who mixes her personal and professional information, and central governments should stop the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement to gain greater control of the situation. A survey of over 1,000 federal employees showed that half of them have used personal devices to access their email, download work documents, and access other personal accounts.

The risks of using your own devices and logging into personal accounts for government work are high. It’s much easier for hackers to access your information, and malware or ransomware can force private information into the wrong hands. Get control of this situation and require that your employees only log into work on government-provided computers, and that they use personal devices for all other connections.

3. Use Strong Passwords—and Change Them Often

A weak password is a prime culprit of security breaches, even in government organizations where the risks are high. Research shows that 86 percent of passwords are considered weak. Additionally, people use the same password for several accounts, and they rarely change.

Require strong password use in your organization. They should include at least one number, one capital letter, and one special character for all work-related accounts. Require that employees change their passwords at least once every six months as well.

4. Adopt Multi-Factor Authentication

Most organizations that work with sensitive information require multi-factor authentication, but not all departments have adopted it yet. This is a more secure form of log-in that requires employees to have multiple verifications, which may include a password, phone number, name badge, employee ID number, and/or biometric scan. It makes it significantly harder for infiltration.

Multi-factor authentication will require extra development and some brainstorming for a smooth transition. But you’ll find that the extra layer of security makes every moment of development worthwhile.

5. Adopt Encryption

Encryption is probably an obvious part of your security setup, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Encryption prevents unauthorized users from accessing information if it’s intercepted, which means it can’t be plucked from the web during transmission. If a laptop is stolen, it also protects the information from being accessed.

There are multiple kinds of encryption, from digital that works on your email to disk, which works on old data files. It’s important to employ encryption in any relevant form to keep files safe.

6. Hire Hackers to Protect Your Systems

Many government agencies are so dedicated to providing adequate security that they actually hire hackers to attempt to penetrate it. Their job is to assess risks and find every back-entry method of reaching information so that vulnerabilities can be assessed and dealt with.

You might also consider offering bug bounty programs, which motivate freelance hackers to find bugs and report them to you for a reward. It’s a great way to seal up security risks and prevent any unethical exploitation of government information.

Cybersecurity in your government organization requires technical changes, but it’s more about adjusting human behavior. Training employees to adopt these security practices and spot vulnerabilities before they get out of hand is key to successfully preventing security breaches.

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