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Cloud security involves strategies and methods that combine to protect data and applications which are hosted in the cloud. The public sector holds a plethora of confidential data, ranging from education and healthcare records to government and military information. The large financial gains available from acquiring such sensitive information is no secret to hackers, which makes the public sector an appealing target. Therefore, understanding the different cybersecurity threats that the industry faces is essential to ensure resilience. 

A report by SecurityScorecard in January 2022 found that 8 out of the top 10 threats impacted the public sector. This included state-sponsored cyber attacks, ransomware attacks, phishing and credential theft. In the first half of 2022, more than 236 million ransomware attacks occurred globally. A study by Obrela Security Industries found that more than four-fifths (81%) of UK healthcare organisations suffered at least one ransomware attack during 2021. These figures are expected to spike during 2023 as cybercrime groups become increasingly organised with more efficient methods.

What types of security are available for public sector bodies?

  • Patch management and general updates

Unpatched, outdated systems essentially leave the door open for hackers. One way to keep your network running effectively is to ensure all IT infrastructure and applications are up to date. This involves regular software and tool updates, as well as patch management. Patch management refers to acquiring, testing and installing multiple code changes, called patches, on existing applications and software. 

  • IPS, IDS and firewalls 

Outdated technology across industries, along with tight budgets, leaves the public sector vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Protection can be achieved by using intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and intrusion detection systems (IDS). An IPS regularly monitors the network, scanning for harmful code and preventing it before it damages the network through use of firewalls and closing access points to prevent further attacks. An IDS is a piece of software that monitors the network for malicious activity and policy violations. If any suspicious activity is detected, it will be flagged to a technical expert who will mitigate the activity and put measures in place to prevent further future invasions. A firewall is a crucial level of security between an organisation and the internet. All inbound traffic flows through a firewall and will be permitted or rejected depending on the chosen requirements, preventing any attempts to penetrate the server.

  • Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing

Vulnerability scanning is an automatic process of inspecting for vulnerabilities across internal networks. The scanning software will compile all possible loop-holes that could be exploited and send the report to the appropriate team. The team is then responsible for ensuring total security before moving on. It is important to incorporate scanning as a permanent, automated segment of security protocol to keep up with changing applications. For government bodies, this option is very cost-effective as it is possible to achieve a high level of web application security with an all-in-one solution. Penetration testing imitates advanced cyber attacks to expose any vulnerabilities. The results of these tests are analysed by technicians to configure security settings and other solutions to defend even against future attacks.

  • Data encryption and backups

When dealing with data or information of any kind, encryption is your best friend. Encryption is the process of converting information to prevent unauthorised access. It enhances the privacy and confidentiality of information when being stored on a computer, database or shared between users. Backing up data across multiple servers, data centres and network providers mitigates the risk that a threat can present to sensitive public information and mission-critical operations. The user will be able to replace any data encrypted, deleted or corrupted by the attacker(s). Both daily onsite backups in local storage devices and offsite backups in alternative secure data centres are effective. A good backup system allows your organisation to roll back to the latest backup and restore data in the event of a ransomware attack.

  • Employee training and education to prevent human error

Employees can pose large threats to networks when they are not made aware of the evolving threats. By implementing regular security training across all positions, there is more assurance that employees have the necessary tools to identify and prevent potential risks. A combination of a proactive, knowledgeable workforce with updated technology minimises the risk of being exposed to threats.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Some options presented above are designed to reduce the chance of an attack, whilst others are there to decrease the damage caused should an attack occur. With good security housekeeping and up-to-date infrastructure, your organisation will be better protected from the increasing number of cyberattacks.

To find out more about how Hyve can help secure your public sector organisation, get in touch with our experts for a free consultation at 0800 612 2524 or email us at sales@hyve.com.

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