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Cyber-resilience for government: how safe are you and your citizens?

by Cybersprint Blog 2 Dec 2019

As more and more public services go online, citizens need to feel they can trust governments with their data – especially those reluctant to start using digital versions of familiar services such as passport renewal or residency registration. Moreover, sensitive government documents and sensitive communication channels between departments and politicians need to be kept secure, even as cyberthreats become increasingly sophisticated and effective. Digital Risk Protection (DRP) solutions are a key element of cyber-defence strategies for public sector organisations when it comes to keeping citizens, politicians and their data safe.

Digitising public services and managing citizens’ data is a huge challenge. Not only are public sector web properties large and growing continuously, the data they contain can be extremely sensitive. This data includes the personal details of millions of citizens, but also city plans, infrastructure specifications, government documents, communications between politicians and many other digital assets that are potentially valuable to cyber criminals.  In addition, the potential threats to the integrity of the data and the safety of citizens, government workers and politicians posed by those criminals are increasing daily.

Bigger online footprint + more sensitive data = increased risk

Public sector organisations often have more constraints than businesses when it comes to IT security budgets and skilled resources. As their digital footprints grow, it’s easy for “back doors” to be left open to cybercriminals, in the form of old, unpatched and insecure web pages, open ports, and other vulnerabilities. And the consequences of a phishing or hacking attack on a municipality can be severe for citizens – personal data can be stolen, sold and otherwise misused by cyber criminals leaving individuals vulnerable to potential fraud. Moreover, the theft of sensitive infrastructure information could be used by cyber terrorists to attack municipal infrastructure or threaten high profile politicians, creating threats to life or national security.

For example, the German government has been the victim of two significant cyberattacks in the last two years. In 2018, hackers were able to access a network used for distributing government documents. And in 2019, sensitive data was compromised and published online, including letters to and from the German chancellor, as well as personal data belonging to other prominent German politicians.

DRP – your first line of defense

Digital Risk Protection solutions can be instrumental in helping detect and mitigate vulnerabilities within the networks and digital assets of governments and municipal authorities. 

At a foundational level, a DRP solution can be used to provide a real-time and continuous picture of a municipality’s digital footprint. This helps identify, for example:

  • Forgotten, unpatched website pages and open ports that could be used to access web properties;
  • Conversations between people planning an attack on a prominent government official;
  • Sensitive citizen or city infrastructure data for sale on anonymous hacker forums;
  • Open doors to sensitive data due to misconfigurations.

Digital Risk Protection solutions can then also be used to continuously monitor, map and categorise citizen and infrastructure data threats across the digital footprints of public sector organisations, and suggest mitigation actions to close the potential security gaps. This is why DRP solutions are an increasingly essential element of data security strategy for public sector organisations.

Are you looking for a way to make your municipal services, data, digital assets and networks more cyber-resilient? We can help you map your digital footprint and its vulnerabilities, empowering you to regain control over your digital assets. Click below to request your free Quickscan.

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Use case: footprint mapping at ifm electronics

Interview with Kevin Kampeter, IT Security Specialist at ifm electronic gmbh.

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Pandemic-related domains list

- The information in this article will be updated frequently -  The 2020 pandemic has forced us all to adapt the way we work and communicate. Cybercriminals are leveraging the situation at the expense of others. At Cybersprint, we aim to keep these digital risks to a minimum. Therefore, we're sharing our research, containing a list of dodgy Corona-related domains you can use for blacklisting purposes.

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Control over third-party risk

Most organisations outsource parts of their IT infrastructure. This brings different opportunities for the services they deliver, such as cloud accessibility or faster web traffic through external web hosting. But there is a downside. As more parts of the online footprint are in the hands of third parties, the digital attack surface of your organisation grows. Even though you cannot directly control those assets, your brand can be held accountable when data is leaked. So, does an increased complexity of the digital infrastructure also mean more risks to an organisation’s online footprint? And how can you find out?

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