Government agencies are becoming quite proactive about security measures because they face the same hacking risks as other companies. However, such agencies must be more cautious about their cybersecurity because any data breach in another country’s hands can harm their national integrity.
We live in an antagonistic environment, and a lack of security can have immense repercussions. Due to every government organization becoming accessible through the website, their database has become vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hence, government agencies must ensure comprehensive upskilling in cybersecurity for their employees at all levels.
There are also problems caused because employees access websites on mobile phones. These devices are more accessible to hackers easily than laptops; therefore, government agencies’ IT personnel must be trained to handle security configurations on smartphones.
Not only the government information is at risk, but also the data pertaining to its employees when the systems are hacked. The data of such employees was accessed when the government computer systems in the Office of Personnel Management in 2014 were hacked, which contained all their details, such as addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers.
What are the reasons for such upskilling?
- Outdated systems:
Technology has progressed rapidly, and the legacy systems used by the government are no longer sufficient to tackle attacks. These systems need to be replaced because the government is also spending a lot on maintenance.
- Supersensitive information:
In addition, government employees need upskilling in cybersecurity because such agencies store much confidential information like social security numbers and driver’s licenses of citizens.
Such information is enough to hack their internet banking accounts.
Upskilling is also crucial for government employees because they handle the most important infrastructure in the country, such as the national and state power grids.
Moreover, the US government organizations have a hacking risk because there are no measures taken due to reckless work culture.
Human error also arises because employees don’t work, due to which server downtime also happens apart from security breaches.
There is also insufficient training that employees cannot understand and hence fail to meet the compliance standards.
Measures for upskilling all employees
Government employees should be upskilled in cyber awareness and trained in taking the following precautions:
- Information of Defense agencies:The Department of Defense(DoD) has established a security protocol(DoD 8140 ), under which it’s mandatory for the cyber security workforce who get in touch with the DoD systems to get IT certifications.
These certifications are required for everyone in the Defense department, including personnel, contractors, and foreign employees. These certifications involve teaching them about the principles employed by the DoD to protect its data from all kinds of cyberattacks. According to this directive, all the employees of the Dod must have the designated certifications.
- Using cloud-based servers: Government employees need to be trained in using the most advanced technology, which can make them resilient to cyber-attacks. For example, they should use cloud servers instead of in-house servers.
The cloud-based servers mean using a third-party organization, and it means extra security because they don’t have a fixed location and 24/7 accessibility of the organization’s website. Also, in case of any data breach, the risk of a hacker asking for ransom is eradicated since the data is backed up in a cloud-based server. The vendor takes care of the cloud-based server and ensures it’s protected with the best security patches.
- Not using personal emails: Hackers succeed when some employees use their personal email IDs to communicate sensitive information. Hence, they should be able to log in to their official email ID through two-factor authentication, which means no one can access their account without the OTP. In addition, if a certain password is compromised, the government official must change it.
- Using designated machines: The upskilling can help government employees understand why they need to use official PCs to conduct their work matters. These devices have VPN enabled so that no one can access the government IP addresses and send malware or phishing emails to government email addresses. In addition, government organizations should get the web application scanning done or are upskilled to detect any system bugs, so they can be removed.
The government officials must learn how to remove the malware from the system. This is only possible if the malware code has been analyzed by an IT firm so that it can be debugged properly.
Hence, the officials can be trained to implement all the measures to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks.
What to do when a ransomware attack happens?
Government officials should also be given upskilling about how to handle such incidents that have happened. They should immediately notify CISA (The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency) about it, which can take remedial action.
Upskilling is also necessary in case the hacker has installed ransomware and wants a ransom so that the government officials can take necessary action whether to comply with his demands or not. The ransom must not be paid because it’s not a guarantee that the hacker will yield the credentials of the hacked system. The CISA can only let the government agency the actions to be taken when ransomware has been installed.
There are training materials available that can enable employees to implement the correct incident response plan. This kind of upskilling can be given to third-party vendors working for government organizations and state and federal government employees.