Overcoming Cybersecurity Challenges in the Public Sector

Posted by Fuel HQ on Sep 27, 2018 10:05:00 AM

Thursday, September 27, 2018

By John Matelski, Fuel president and Chief Innovation and Information Officer for DeKalb County Department of Innovation & Technology

PublicSectorPublic sector organizations and agencies face unprecedented pressure to provide services to citizens and constituents in a transparent, cost-effective and efficient manner. In fact, the expectation is that they also be customer-focused and responsive to stakeholder needs in a climate of shrinking budgets and resources. Because of this, today, like never before, public sector agencies have had to become more proactive and operate more like private sector businesses. As part of this new behavioral model, agencies are required to maintain and secure an immense amount of data that is collected each day in order to make “just-in-time” decisions, as well as forecast for the long term. The kinds of data and information to collect can be anything from crime data to public health information, economic development data and public school information. While maintaining and securing systems and data can be a challenge at times, there are a few things that can be done to move your organization forward and continue fighting cybersecurity threats.

Having a security ecosystem in place is a great place to start. Not only does it provide secure systems that enable operations to deliver citizen and constituent services, but it provides a means to secure the vast amounts of information for which the public sector is responsible. The imperative is to secure all systems and data while ensuring appropriate levels of transparency, that meets the evolving needs of our citizens and constituents. 

As cybersecurity threats have proliferated and technology has advanced, government data, security, and compliance have become increasingly complex. As the CIO for a progressive public sector county government (DeKalb County, Georgia), I can convey that we recognized the need to adopt new solutions and approaches to secure our systems and data. 

In a recent case study from Palo Alto Networks, Bret Lopeman, Ada County, Idaho, IT security engineer, astutely identified that we can no longer rely on old security technology; we must be proactive rather than reactive as we protect systems and data. This challenge is consistent across all sectors, not just government. 

As Lopeman shares in the case study, he ultimately moved his organization to the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security platform, to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats, while enabling a wide range of network access privileges for the diverse needs of their county. Similarly, DeKalb County is leveraging Palo Alto Networks’s Next-Generation Security platform, as well as taking advantage of WildFire, Global Protect, Threat Prevention, AutoFocus, and Panorama. We are also evaluating the potential benefits of moving from traditional end-point technology to Traps, which leverages threat intelligence, machine learning, as well as local static and dynamic analytics. 

Another program which we have leveraged to help gain a better understanding of DeKalb’s IT security stance is Palo Alto Networks’s Security Life Cycle Review (SLR). This free offering examines your network traffic and generates a comprehensive report unique to your organization. The report provides actionable intelligence around the applications, URL traffic, types of content and threats traversing the network, including recommendations that can be employed to reduce the organization’s overall risk exposure. 

Last, but certainly not least, if you want help navigating your IT security ecosystem, and work with others that have common interests, products, or challenges—I encourage you to join a user group like Fuel. If you are a DBA, Security Engineer, functional user, CIO or other security technology professional, the Fuel User Group may be a great fit for you. It’s free to join and you’ll have access to resources like online forums and special interest groups. Join other IT security thought leaders, and help shape the future of cybersecurity, with endless opportunities to advance your knowledge and career, while collaborating with other experts in the field.

Why join Fuel? Learn more here.


More to Explore

Check out these Fuel blog posts for further reading:

Topics: threat prevention, next-generation security, Fuel member stories, Panorama, public sector, Security Life Cycle Review, case study, WildFire, Global Protect, AutoFocus, Join Fuel, public sector IT jobs

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