Jan 11 2022

Making the Most of Federal Funding to Boost State and Local Cybersecurity

The recently enacted infrastructure law provides agency IT leaders with an opportunity to improve their data protection.

Modernization has become a buzzword over the past few years, but the need for modern solutions to serve citizens persists as a top priority for agencies. As ransomware continues to plague organizations everywhere, IT leaders must take a stand.

It’s crucial for agencies at all levels to modernize systems quickly and at scale to prevent the worst from happening. Traditional prevention measures are no longer enough, and in many cases, once an agency has been infected with ransomware, it’s already too late to stop it.

Ransomware attacks are an incredibly frequent and expensive risk to agencies. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that ransomware will cost approximately $20 billion this year alone, a 57-fold jump from 2015, and predicts that the global damage caused by ransomware could cost $265 billion by 2031. However, a clear struggle remains: How do agencies fund these drastic and necessary technology upgrades?

In November, President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law, finalizing a crucial part of his economic agenda. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver $550 billion in federal investments over the next five years in areas such as national infrastructure, broadband and technology systems, including a $1 billion investment in cybersecurity funds. The bill is coming at an ideal time, and agencies can put the cybersecurity funds to good use and invest in systems that prioritize backup and recovery against potential threats.

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While having the proper precautions in place to prevent an attack is essential, it’s equally as critical that organizations plan for recovery. This means implementing a ransomware strategy that considers recovery strategies in which data can be rapidly restored, at scale, in order to avoid continuity disruptions and negative financial impact.

State and local agencies must identify strategic gaps in their cyber protection plans and implement personalized data protection systems that prioritize data backup and rapid restoration. They can reframe their cybersecurity strategies and build momentum against attacks by filling resource gaps and investing in advanced systems.

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State and Local IT Leaders Need to Adapt Cyber Plans

Just as technology systems continually evolve, so do the strategies to protect the data stored within them. State and local IT leaders must identify gaps in their agency cyber protection plans and understand how to continually adapt as threats change and systems evolve.

To increase cyber resiliency, state and local agencies should start by identifying strategic gaps in their cyber strategies. Crucial first steps include developing a prioritized list of high-value assets, a hardware and software inventory, and a list of personnel responsible for cyber incident recovery, which will strengthen defenses and protect citizen data. State and local governments should then focus on the fundamentals, including storing comprehensive backlogs, investing in rapid data restoration and recovery, insisting on encryption, and optimizing automation.

Having consistent, real-time access to data is critical for state and local governments. In the event of an attack, agencies must be able to recover data as quickly as possible and at scale. Implementing a modern data experience that is fast, simple and cost-effective can help prevent the devastating effects of a cyberattack.

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Customize Data Protection to Meet Agencies’ Needs

As state and local agencies look to invest in systems that prioritize data protection, no two agencies are alike. Each state and local agency serves citizens in different ways in the quest to deliver on their missions. Many technology solutions on the market meet the needs of different types of agencies. Still, the key is to determine the most personalized data protection system to meet specific goals and outcomes.

Some of the most significant concepts in data protection include cloud technologies and platforms delivered as a service. A key aspect of modernization includes cloud transformation — specifically integrating systems with hybrid cloud — allowing governments to continue evolving as needs change.

Through connectivity with cloud providers, agencies can create specialized solutions that deliver the most intelligent and integrated cloud and artificial intelligence models. In addition, these partnerships with cloud providers will allow agencies to centralize data operations and streamline management processes, ultimately leading to more secure systems.

In addition, solutions delivered as a service offer flexibility and agility while maintaining reliable costs, allowing agencies and institutions at all levels to scale up or down without massive disruptions during installation. These models enable state and local IT leaders to leverage only the digital infrastructure they need at a given time, therefore remaining innovative and agile for the future when predicting long-term requirements can be difficult.

By creating a personalized path to modernization, state and local leaders can better deliver services to citizens in more specialized ways and continue to grow in their service capabilities and protection abilities.

DIVE DEEPER: How can security operations centers help state governments?

How State and Local Agencies Can Prioritize Protection

The threat of a ransomware attack is not going away any time soon, and governments need to have the proper digital infrastructure to consistently support and continue operations. Accelerating digital transformation will help state and local governments grow their capabilities and provide services to citizens more efficiently.

Now is the time to mitigate risks and bolster data security. New cybersecurity funding can help state and local governments take data protection systems to the next level. By continuing to identify strategic gaps in agency cyber protection plans and implementing personalized data protection systems, state and local leaders can set their agencies up for data and security success.

Through investing in the best solutions, agencies can sustain technology systems that will last as needs change for years to come, making their data more protected yet accessible.

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