February 01, 2017
In the land of the new, security is king…
By: Ger Daly

I spend a lot of my time these days thinking, talking and listening to thoughts and ideas on emerging technologies—the new IT. I cannot recall a time when there was so much investment and acceleration at this scale, and the relentless disruption to traditional ways of carrying out business and government. User-design, agile, mobile, analytics, cloud, blockchain, virtual reality, IoT—they are driving deep change, and everybody is working to figure out where they can take us. Security is what connects them all—a wise man once observed that with the invention of the ship came the shipwreck! The security imperative is stronger and more challenging today than ever before.

In a recent Accenture survey of public service technology leaders, we found emerging technologies are already actively helping agencies to do more for citizens and employees alike. Respondents tell us they know that technology isn’t the only priority—leadership, adaptability and skills development are also keeping them awake at night. Yet the majority of leaders (92 percent) do recognise the role of technology in improving citizens’ experiences. And 73 percent said reduced organisational risk and improved security was an expected bonus from their investments in emerging technologies.

Now that is interesting, because with the explosion of emerging technologies, we have seen security move from a plumbing issue to a mission-critical boardroom topic. Even in the last few months, the amount of noise in the system around security in government is causing every organisation to pause and think about how they are protecting their assets today, and into the future.

Here are six steps I believe government agencies should take to raise security from mere protection to game-changer as they embrace emerging tech:

  1. Put security first. Around half of C-level security executives said they were worried about insider data theft and malware infections in the next 12 to 18 months in a recent survey. Governments must lead the charge on applying security holistically, building it into software applications and devices, platforms and networks to protect the whole data supply chain.

  2. Be sure, be safe. Protect data and at the same time prepare for the growth in commercial, sensor, mobile, and cloud data that mean a wider network of public and private sector stakeholders will need to access different data sources.

  3. Prevent data manipulation. Remember it’s not all about protecting devices or networks. Healthcare, justice and revenue data sources are vulnerable to manipulation—with very real consequences for individuals, businesses and governments.

  4. Build trust. Balance data collection and analysis of citizen data with the needs of wider public security and law enforcement goals. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said security, privacy and digital trust were obstacles to deploying new technologies.

  5. Hire security talent. The right talent is key to reducing risk. Seventy percent of our survey respondents said they don’t have the talent to take advantage of intelligent technologies, and 51 percent hire talent from the private sector.

  6. Work together. Government agencies should put relevant security standards and processes in place with third parties. An enterprise is only as secure as its least secure partner, yet another recent study found that only 35 to 57 percent of all enterprises said they assess ecosystem partners for cyber integrity and preparedness.

Putting security first is the beginning. That strategic move will drive further changes and ultimately better protect the citizens that we serve.

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