by John Matelski
Another day, and yet another cyber hack! As someone who works for a county government agency, I know all too well the daily challenges that are faced maintaining a secure infrastructure, and protecting citizen and constituent data. The unfortunate reality is, as our society becomes more digitally enabled and reliant, we are creating more avenues through which criminals can access our data.
Though the cases that make the news are the big ones like the IRS data breach, or the Sony hack – our reality is the attacks against small businesses, local governments and individuals are the ones that impact us the most. Many times, businesses that are successfully targeted by a cyber-attack go out of business soon thereafter. They simply do not have the resources to respond and recover.
And it’s not just about the loss of money. The loss of intellectual property and customer/constituent data is equally problematic. Consumer trust (private sector) and constituent trust (public sector) is vital for any organization, and data breaches can be catastrophic.
The extent of the problem has likely been underestimated, because many cybercrimes are unreported. The one thing that I think we can all agree upon is that making cybercrime a priority is key to overcoming it. It is also clear that we cannot rely on the government to solve the problem. It is going to really take a global effort, and collaborations between the private and public sectors to get everyone working together sharing information in real time.
With all of the electronics we use in our offices, we also need to educate our employees about how they should protect themselves. Our intrusion prevention systems and firewalls count dozens of instances per day, where employees attempt to unwittingly access websites that have malicious content on them. Creating organizational awareness, and ensuring that people know what to look for when they go to a web site, or receive an email that has an unexpected link or attachment, even if it is from someone that they know – is a critical part to combatting cybercrime.
Finally, I am happy to see Palo Alto Networks and other vendors in the cybersecurity space, working to develop and enhance disruptive technologies that help secure public and private sector enterprises. Palo Alto Networks has also taken the lead on helping promote global awareness and collaboration by helping customers establish the Fuel User Group. This user led non-profit organization is enabling people like you and me to share leading practices and lessons learned, and allowing public and private sector organizations to work together to fight the cyber bad guys!
If cyber-security is part of your job, I would encourage you to join Fuel—membership fees are waived for 2015 so you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
John Matelski is a Board Member of Fuel User Group and works as the Chief Innovation and Information Officer for the Dekalb County, Georgia Government. Learn more about John and the rest of Fuel's Board of Directors.