On the other? Local governments became an easy target for cybercriminals since they often don’t have enough money or staff to build an in-house cybersecurity team. There is a clever way in which local governments can boost their security tenfold without hurting their budgets though – and the solution is called SOCaaS.
Why makes local governments so vulnerable to cyberattacks?
According to a CloudSEK XVigil report, the number of cyberattacks targeting government agencies increased by 95% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Even more worrying is that in the Arctic Wolf study, 75% of local governments said they are attacked at a “near-constant” rate.
What makes local governments such an enticing target for criminals?
One reason is that government offices store an enormous amount of sensitive data inside their systems:
- Citizen information (including personally identifiable information)
- Social Security and ID numbers
- Financial data
- Medical information
- and plenty of other information that can be easily sold on the dark web.
What’s also becoming a security issue is that thanks to modern technology, government offices are becoming increasingly connected. While that makes communication between each office faster and more efficient, it, unfortunately, also gives criminals plenty of places to attack. And in case the hackers gain access to one network, they can quickly spread the attack to the other systems.
A single attack on Miller County, Arkansas’ government affected offices in 55 out of 75 counties. Though the officials claim no data was stolen, several offices were forced to go offline or temporarily close for over two weeks. That’s something no local government wants to deal with because it means citizens won’t be able to use their services.
Local governments and cybersecurity budget
But despite so many security threats to local governments, their cybersecurity budget is unfortunately still quite tight. Small, local governments simply don’t have enough money to hire cybersecurity experts, train their staff, or update their infrastructure. And that makes them a very easy target for attack.
In fact, KnowBe4 research on the distribution of ransomware code among different sectors found that local governments are the third (after healthcare and education) most often hit sector, with 11.4% of ransomware being targeted at municipalities. Compare it with federal and state governments that had a share of “only” 2.5% and 2.1% of the total attacks!
Criminals know that while federal or country governments can afford sophisticated cybersecurity measures and most likely have a dedicated cybersecurity team working for them, for local governments, that would be a luxury. So in that way, an attack on a local office is far more likely to succeed – and they might be able to target the central government offices through the local office network as well.
What could local governments gain by working with a SOC team?
The most local government can usually afford is having one or two IT specialists working for them. The thing is, the IT staff typically have far more responsibilities on their side than just cybersecurity, so they might overlook a system vulnerability. Besides, now when threat actors can attack at any time of the day or night, relying on the IT employees working from 9 to 5 and only during workdays isn’t exactly a good option.
What the local governments need now is a dedicated cybersecurity expert team that would keep monitoring the network 24/7 and quickly respond to any threats.
Here’s where Security Operation Center (SOC) teams come into play.
SOC teams are made of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals who specialize in monitoring, detecting, and responding to security incidents. With their expertise and skills, local governments could dramatically improve their overall security posture while also freeing up their main IT staff time.
Here’s exactly how a Security Operation Center team could help local governments boost their security:
Round-the-clock monitoring and rapid incident response
Since SOC teams work day and night in shifts, local governors can be sure that there will always be someone keeping an eye on the network security, even during weekends or holidays. Plus, the SOC’s team experience allows them to spot early signs of an incoming cyberattack and immediately respond to those to prevent or minimize the attack’s impact on the services.
Bringing advanced tools and technologies for proactive threat detection and mitigation
Local governments can also benefit from SOC teams’ sophisticated threat detection, monitoring, and prevention tools, such as:
- Threat intelligence platforms,
- Real-time infrastructure monitoring systems,
- Data encryption,
- Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) systems, etc.
SOC teams are also experts when it comes to making the best use of those technologies to proactively spot and prevent potential security issues from happening. And since they also stay up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity trends, tools, and threats, they can respond to emerging cybersecurity threats just as quickly.
Conducting comprehensive risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities
Local governments can also ask the SOC team to run a thorough risk assessment of their systems to know which parts of their local infrastructure are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks. After the analysis is finished, the SOC staff can then outline the potential vulnerabilities and issues in their networks, systems, and processes and suggest the best ways to mitigate those.
Supporting local governments in establishing robust security policies and procedures
Cyber experts can also help governments review and update their cybersecurity policies. After evaluating those, cybersecurity professionals can highlight which parts of policies are outdated or inefficient or what the governors should add to the new policies to boost the network security.
Educate staff on best security practices
Another benefit of working with a SOC team is that they can provide customized cybersecurity training for the employees to teach them how to recognize and respond to security threats. During the training, workers can learn what the potential consequences of cyberattacks are and how they can secure their work accounts. The training is also a good place to train the staff on how they should behave during a cyberattack – and who they should alert if they notice a data breach.
Protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access and leak
By working with cybersecurity experts, local governments can also put in place robust security measures to protect sensitive data from breaches or leaks. For example, the SOC team can help them implement data encryption and strict access control or secure their endpoints to prevent the data from leaking outside.
Ensuring the smooth functioning of essential public services and minimizing disruptions
With robust security measures in place and an expert team watching over the infrastructure, local governments can make their systems far more resilient to cyberattacks and minimize disruptions caused by cyberattacks. Armed with cutting-edge security technology, cybersecurity professionals can prevent many types of cyberattacks before they even happen. And even if the government’s network will be breached, the SOC team can quickly identify and mitigate the damage caused so the service can be restored as quickly as possible.
Why should local governments use SOCaaS?
For all those incredible benefits, there’s, unfortunately, one significant problem with building a dedicated in-house Security Operations Center team. Namely, the staggering costs. With how in-demand cybersecurity professionals are now, the cost of hiring even one of them might be out of reach for most local governments. Getting four or five different cybersecurity professionals to build a team that can work 24/7, plus updating their infrastructure, is simply impossible.
…at least, that was the case when SOC teams worked only in-house.
How can SOCaaS teams be useful for local government?
Thanks to cloud computing, local governments can now “hire” a dedicated cybersecurity team via SOCasS or “Security Operation Center as a Service” solution. That way, they can work together with a team of security experts and take advantage of the newest security technologies just by paying a monthly or yearly subscription fee.
The outsourced SOC teams can also handle pretty much everything you’d need an in-house SOC team to do:
- Monitoring the governmental network, infrastructure, and endpoints
- Running regular security vulnerabilities scans
- Protecting sensitive data from breaches or leaks
- Mitigating the impact of cybersecurity attacks and restoring services to normal
- Conducting security procedures and policies audits
- Educating government staff on security practices and incident response, etc.
So it’s almost like you would have a dedicated cybersecurity team working for them – only that the team works remotely, rather than from a given government office.
What can our CyberDefender do to protect the local government from cyber threats?
If you want to make the most of modern cybersecurity technology to boost your local government network security, the CyberDefender team can lend you a hand.
We combined several cybersecurity technologies with the knowledge and experience of our own cybersecurity team to create a cybersecurity comprehensive security solution. Plus, since CyberDefender can be easily tailored to each individual business needs, it can be used both by small local governments but larger businesses as well.
So if you were looking for a way to:
- Protect your systems and data from attacks 24/7
- Keep your data safe from breaches and leaks
- Give your main IT team more time for their main responsibilities
- Have cybersecurity professionals on board to who you can reach out when there’s an incident
but you can’t afford to build a SOC team yourself, then CyberDefender solution is at your service. And if you have any doubts or questions you want to ask us first, feel free to contact us. We’ll make sure to show you just how much of a difference a robust cybersecurity tool can make for your local office.
Investing in cybersecurity is nowadays a necessity – especially for local governments that store so much valuable data. And it’s not just about protecting the network and data inside – it’s also about safeguarding the trust and confidence of the citizens.
A cyberattack can have far-reaching consequences – both financial and reputational ones. So by proactively securing their local infrastructure, governments can show that protecting their systems and, by extension, also their citizens, is their top priority.