Published on April 20, 2023
Cybersecurity or information technology security, protects sensitive information/data, networking systems, and programs from cyberattacks.
It prevents malicious attacks designed to alter, destroy, gain access, extort, or delete a government’s or an organization’s sensitive data and systems.
Cyber Security Threefold Threats
1) Cyber-Attack: An unauthorized network/system access by a third party resulting in data manipulation and loss. The most common types of cyberattacks are:
Phishing Attack is one of the prominent types of cyberattacks; It is a social engineering attack where a hacker impersonates a trusted person and sends fake emails to their target. Once their target opens the fake emails and clicks on any malicious links, the hacker gains instant access to their confidential and financial information.
SQL (Structural Query Language) Injection Attack is a type of cyberattack that occurs when a hacker injects malicious code into a database-driven website, causing the server to reveal sensitive and vital information.
2) Cybercrime: This is a criminal activity done by hackers for financial gain. These hackers engage in internet & email fraud, identity theft, theft and sale of government data, infringing copyrights, theft of card payment data, and much more.
3) Cyber-Terrorism: This involves using the internet to carry out violent acts that might threaten or result in loss of lives or intense bodily harm.
Importance Of Protecting Government data
Over the past year, hundreds of large-scale cyber attacks have been recorded in countries worldwide, and it’s expected to keep growing in the coming years.
Government data is important and confidential information that is not for all to see; it requires a high level of cyber security to prevent unauthorized access from malware and hackers.
Governments around the world store classified data on the cloud and servers; the government data could be related to defense plans, personal pieces of information of citizens, national investments, sensitive information, the nation’s infrastructure, biometric data, and more.
Hackers try to access this data by compromising the government servers. Without a sound cybersecurity strategy, the safety of that country will be questioned.
A successful cybersecurity strategy prevents sensitive government data from getting into the wrong hands.
How Governments are Working to Secure their Digital Infrastructure from Securing Voting Systems to Protecting Sensitive Data from Cyber-attacks
At the bare minimum, applications, platforms, devices, and systems necessary to get any work done in a country must be secure, integrated, and credible.
Governments have implemented analytics to improve citizens’ lives, secure voting systems, protect sensitive data from cyberattacks, adapt when an inevitable change occurs, and much more. Let’s look at these further:
1) Securing Voting Systems: The election systems encounter different security threats and vulnerabilities, especially when the voting systems is connected to a wide-area network or the internet.
The election systems include voter registration systems, vote tabulation systems, voting systems that allow all registered voters to cast ballots, etc.
With the high rate of security vulnerabilities, someone will have to “install malicious software” with temporary physical access like “voters in their polling unit” or remotely from all election management systems; this enables the ability to alter voters’ votes while subverting the procedural protections.
One of the ways the government is working on securing the voting systems is by using election equipment that can create a paper record of every vote cast. However, not every government requires the use of every vote – verifiable records of votes, paper ballots, paper records for voting machines, etc.
This safeguard is the most vital security measure to protect against vote tampering. The use of paper records enables all votes to tally to be confirmed and audited manually in the event of suspected manipulation.
2) Protecting Sensitive Data from Cyberattacks: Governments now train their staff on cybersecurity strategies. Most government workers use simple passwords like “12345” or “password” to log into their computers.
These weak passwords give hackers an easy chance to access government data with few guesses. To prevent a data breach, every government staff is trained effectively to use strong passwords, especially on their personal and work emails.
Furthermore, governments now recruit knowledgeable workers to have an organized IT department that will make sure potential cyber attacks and bugs won’t go unnoticed.
Government bodies are now implementing cybersecurity strategies to protect the nation’s vital data and interests. Cybersecurity will preserve secret information, national infrastructure, and national identities.
Furthermore, cybersecurity prevents cyberattacks on government investments and assets.
About the Author
Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.
He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.
After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.
He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.
As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.
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