As cyberattacks become more sophisticated across ever-expanding attack surfaces, it’s easy to assume the security team will take care of risk management and mitigation.
Indeed, employees—both within the agency and across the contractor community—are one of the greatest risks to the government’s security postures. According to the 2020 SolarWinds® Public Sector Cybersecurity Survey
, careless and untrained insiders are the largest source (52%) of security threats, a trend that has remained steady for more than five years.
Just as changes must be made at the organizational level, government agencies must improve their security posture at the individual level as well. Here are three ways all public-sector employees can improve personal cybersafety, which will ultimately lead to a more secure government.
- Conduct a Personal Risk Assessment
All users have access to systems and applications they don’t use or need anymore. Perhaps they moved to new project or different departments but still have access to a database with sensitive or mission-critical data that could be compromised if they credentials are stolen. Users can reduce this risk by surveying the permissions they have across applications, devices, and buildings.
- Right-Size Access Privileges
Because every user presents risk, agencies are adopting measures to verify user identity and authorize what systems and data they can access.
The SolarWinds survey found identity and access management tools
are heavily adopted (97%) and rated as the second-most-effective tool for application and network security behind endpoint protection software. In addition, over half of federal and state and local organizations formally segment user access to systems and data using network segmentation and a zero-trust approach.
Individual users can augment these approaches and fill in the gaps by working with their manager to ensure they have the least amount of privileges they need to get their work done. Those who need more privileges for a specific task should request a temporary elevation. Once the task is complete, the permissions can be reverted.
- Leave Work at Work
With more government employees working from home, keeping work and personal digital life separate is critical. Home is a remote site and should be treated as such.
Employees should make sure their Wi-Fi router’s firmware is up-to-date and remind themselves to check it monthly. They should also verify they’re using the WPA3 Wi-Fi protocol
, which brings better protections for Wi-Fi certified devices than the earlier WPA2 standard. They should also choose a complex network password and update it regularly. Firewall settings should be checked to ensure there are no open ports hackers could use to get in. If an agency uses a VPN, employees should always use it to connect to their work network.
Read the full article in FCW here.