Cybersecurity resilience begins with strategy and collaboration
From ransomware attacks on school systems and hospitals to threats on critical infrastructure, state and local government (SLG) IT leaders are under immense pressure. Ransomware attacks have sadly become an unwelcome norm—and governments are still having difficulty staying ahead of bad actors.
Seventy-five percent of state and local governments experienced a breach or potential compromise in the past year, according to new research from MeriTalk. So how can SLG organizations gain traction in the fight to reduce risk, improve cyber hygiene and outmaneuver adversaries?
Solving the Challenges
Data protection is an essential part of government platforms, and state and local agencies are seeking new solutions to get the best backup and restore qualities for maximum data protection. IT leaders still must assess their individual agency needs to determine the best path to modernization and ample data protection.
IT leaders should address gaps in SLG cyber strategies and recovery measures, embrace emerging technologies that can advance cyber initiatives and seize opportunities for federal, state, and local collaboration—all to build the most robust defense against a potential attack.
Filling Strategy & Recovery Gaps
When it comes to increasing cyber resiliency, state and local agencies should start by identifying strategic gaps. By developing a prioritized list of high-value assets, a hardware and software inventory and a list of personnel responsible for cyber incident recovery, they will be able to strengthen defenses and protect citizen data. From there, SLGs should focus on the fundamentals, including storing comprehensive backlogs, investing in rapid data restore and recovery, insisting on encryption and optimizing automation.
Having consistent, real-time access to data is critical for state and local governments—as in the event of an attack, they must be able to recover data as quickly as possible and at scale. Implementing a modern data experience that is fast, simple, and cost-effective can help prevent the devastating effects of a cyberattack.
Emphasize the Infrastructure
Modern cyber solutions are only as strong as their underlying infrastructure. As new cyber problems hit state and local organizations daily, IT leaders should prioritize innovative solutions towards cloud migration and advanced data storage, which will be vital to improving SLG cyber resilience in the future.
IT leaders should carefully plan and craft their agency’s modernization journey while factoring in the benefits of these emerging technologies. A comprehensive strategy across the modernization journey will optimize value and reduce risk and cost for state and local agencies. It’s important for SLG leaders to share infrastructure modernization plans, security benefits and public sector proof points with non-technical leadership to help accelerate cloud adoption and data storage implementation.
Commit to a Unified Approach
Finally, a significant focus in the future of state and local service delivery will be improving collaboration and information sharing with other state and local organizations. Local governments benefit from leaders who are highly engaged in the fight for cybersecurity improvements.
Local governments should establish cross-agency networks to improve communication with elected leaders, share alerts, and exchange best practices. Where possible, IT leaders should implement a whole-of-state approach to shared challenges like improving cyber training, instituting basic cyber hygiene and streamlining advanced security protocols. Increased collaboration will lead to stronger defenses and more substantial outcomes.
Prevention is Key
Now more than ever, local governments must build cyber resiliency with modern protection that guards data from becoming a target, provides early detection, and reduces downtime. Then, when the inevitable attack happens, it’s all about rapid recovery and bringing systems back online. A strong, unified data protection architecture is essential in data recovery and the fastest speed of backup.
By understanding and filling their recovery gaps, embracing new backup solutions, and collaborating with other governments, local agencies can build a strong defense and maintain maximum citizen data protection. The best way to avoid a ransomware attack is to stay ahead of it.
Michael Wiseman is the vice president, U.S. Americas SLED, Pure Storage, leading the sales team responsible for state, local and education customers in the United States. In his current role, Wiseman is responsible for developing a team to enable the transformation of how public sector customers protect, serve and educate their constituents by leveraging technology to connect, innovate and lead. Prior to joining Pure Storage, Wiseman spent 17 years at Cisco.