Cybersecurity Threats in the Public Sector Can Be Daunting; Preparing for Them Doesn’t Have to Be

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Approaching cybersecurity can be overwhelming. There are endless acronyms, emerging threats and alarming headlines from across the globe. The key is to take the threat of cyber-attacks seriously, but don’t let them paralyze you into inaction.

You can do this by preparing for a cyber threat using the same approach you would for any physical threat. Start by understanding and documenting your technical assets to determine the types of threats you may be vulnerable to, establish plans, policies and procedures to increase awareness and compliance, conduct exercises to test preparedness and obtain the right tools to mitigate or eliminate impacts.

Cybersecurity Funds Are Flowing – Use them Wisely

Established through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program includes $1 billion in grant funding over the next four years. This unprecedented funding is likely the first time many governmental organizations will be able to fortify their defenses against various cyber threat vectors. This funding comes at a critical time when governments face increasing threats stemming from geopolitical issues, malicious actors and cybercriminals.

Data privacy, security and overall stakeholder demands are also increasing the need for governments and institutions of higher education to act. Rather than responding once an incident occurs, be proactive to avoid the incident altogether.

The best way to start is to look inward, and the best time to start is now.

Start Now and Start Smart

Throwing a barrage of cybersecurity tools and services at your network, devices and applications is neither cost effective nor sustainable. Using public money wisely, just as you would for any other project, begins with an assessment of your current state, where you are likely to face threats and where you need to be in the future.

No matter where your organization is on your cybersecurity journey, taking a moment to reflect on your current cybersecurity posture, the emerging vulnerabilities you face and formulating a risk-based mitigation strategy is critical. Cybersecurity is a continuous journey, not a destination.

Regularly Assess Your Cybersecurity Posture to Make Meaningful Investments

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has established the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) to standardize and demystify how organizations can protect themselves across five functions, which are further broken down into 23 categories. The NIST CSF is a best practice not only for the private sector, but also the public sector.

To help navigate the NIST CSF assessment, ISG’s Cybersecurity Practice has teamed up with ISG Public Sector and ISG Higher Education to develop a set of tools and methods to help states, large state agencies, local colleges, cities, counties and other budgetary entities  address their cybersecurity needs. We partner with all levels and types of governments to help you protect your digital assets, your teams and your stakeholders.

Make Sense of the Cybersecurity Market

Acronyms are so deeply engrained in the public sector that they often evolve into words themselves. Piling on to this alphabet soup are dozens of jumbled letters created for the cybersecurity world. Don’t let this jargon deter you!

Educate yourself and your entire team to understand what these acronyms mean and which providers best suit your specific needs. One method to educate your team is via a subscription such as the ISG Provider Lens™. This research focuses on the nuances faced by state, local and higher education organizations and is backed by our consultants and practitioners, which means the insights are grounded in practice, not simply in theory. We democratize our insights across an entire business unit rather than locking them behind a single “seat.” With a single subscription, your entire office will have access to thousands of pieces of research on demand, as well as access to our analysis and consultants to answer your toughest questions.

Contact us to learn more about how we can work together to strengthen your cybersecurity posture and make sense of the emerging funding demands and threats across the digital landscape.

About the author

Alex Perry is a thought leader in identifying, sourcing, implementing and sustaining pragmatic technology solutions in the public sector industry. He is passionate about leveraging emerging digital solutions to improve services for stakeholders across state and local governments. Focusing on processes before technologies, Alex works with public professionals to identify impactful and lasting process optimization opportunities to unlock the true potential of IT investments. His experience includes strategic planning and development, business analytics strategy, solution development and adoption, ERP planning and optimization, project management, and transformation management. Though he began his career in the public sector as a Business Analytics Director for a large state agency, prior to joining ISG Alex transitioned to consulting as a Director for one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting firms. At ISG, he continues to further his reach and impact by serving government clients across the nation.

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