My previous blog in this three-part series looked at what’s behind citizens’ cyber-insecurities. No surprise that a recent Accenture Public Service Pulse Survey shows that concerns over data privacy and security rank high. So does ongoing lack of confidence in government’s ability to keep data safe. Government agencies recognize and share these concerns. But with budgets under pressure, challenges recruiting skilled workforce, and cyberattacks growing in sophistication and scope all the time, there’s a lot to cope with.
There’s good news though: we know the majority (over 60 percent) of citizens will support the introduction of additional cyber security measures by government agencies, provided their data security improves. The same percentage would be assured by better data protection on their personal devices.
Overall, citizens say their confidence in government’s cyber security posture would be boosted by the availability of services like secure digital identities and regular security health-checks. What they’re far less willing to accept, however, is any overt oversight: allowing government organizations to monitor their accounts and devices is supported by just 30 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
In a high-risk environment, governments need to take steps to address their citizens’ cyber insecurities by increasing security, privacy and confidence. We’ve identified five key areas of investments to help them get started. We did this by describing five examples of cyber protection services and gauging citizen support for each one.
First, carry out an information security assessment. Many Government organizations lack the latest technology for safeguarding citizen data stored online. Some of them are evaluating to better understand the potential vulnerabilities in their systems and processes by conducting security risk assessments and creating plans to remediate the risk. We found that 70 percent of citizens think that’s a good use of government resources; 82 percent said that this kind of evaluation would give them greater confidence in the privacy and security of their data.
Bearing in mind the rising level of interaction online/via mobile with government services, it’s no surprise that citizens believe state and local government should target investments at services that protect and securely allow access to digital identities across devices and systems. Eighty-five percent of the citizens we spoke to said that this security protection would make them feel more confident.
Next, invest in cyber-defense services to predict, detect and interrupt cyberattacks. The threat from criminals attempting to hack or gain illegal access to the systems of every type of organization, including state and local government, is constant. Here too, 85 percent of citizens said they’d feel more confident in the privacy and security of their data if the government agencies they deal with invested in these services.
The majority of government agencies now take advantage of technologies like GPS-enabled apps, the cloud and social media. They all help to provide better services. But they also expose government to new security threats. Most citizens would welcome more investment by state and local government into services that make technologies like these more secure.
The fifth focus for investment, managed security services, recognizes that protecting against cyber threats is complex and requires highly specialized talent. Because of the cost and recruitment challenges they face in this space, some state and local government organizations have started outsourcing their cybersecurity operations to experts specialized in this field. Over 70 percent of citizens would feel more confident about their data if investments were being made in managed security services.
Our research clearly shows that investments in these five areas – information security assessments, digital identity, cyber defense, emerging technology security, and managed security services – will boost citizens’ confidence and help to ease cyber-insecurities. A majority of citizens also indicated that improved cyber security would positively change their attitude to government overall. There’s plenty of work to do, granted. But the way ahead is clear.
In my next blog in this series, I’ll be looking at some of the initiatives already underway in this space.
North America Security Lead (H&PS) - Accenture