10 tips for securing the public sector

Those working in the public sector need to tackle key security issues if they want to avoid costly data breaches that impact both finances and reputation.

Human error is considered the most likely cause of security breaches, but these could often be avoided if security and administration policies were put in place, and followed. Network Box gives 10 key recommendations for best practice in public sector security.

1. Ensure that systems are updated and patched. Have some way of monitoring this critical function to ensure it takes place.

2. Remember security is about more than just email. Firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, access policies and VPNs are all critical elements of security.

3. Review what applications and systems are used across the organization as part of ISO9001 or about once per quarter.

4. Ensure that all data is routed through the appropriate channels and that nothing bypasses security systems (this is one of the most common causes of vulnerabilities).

5. Educate employees – keep them informed about their role in keeping data secure and limit access rights.

6. Use a secure VPN for home workers, so data does not have to leave secure servers.

7. Don’t allow employees to download anything that isn’t approved by the security team, such as peer-to-peer software.

8. Encrypt all data and use secure passwords on mobile devices and laptops.

9. Check all outgoing as well as incoming data for possible data leaks.

10. Consider the total cost of ownership of running security systems. A specialist managed service can reduce costs by between 20 and 40 per cent.

Simon Heron, Internet Security Analyst for Network Box, says: “We’ve seen several high profile public sector security breaches in recent years, most of which have been preventable. Naturally, human error can never be completely eradicated, but guidelines and procedures can be established to minimize the risk that this represents to data security. We’re also seeing the public sector move from a closed environment, to a more online one, which has increased the risk of cyber-crime.”

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