Enhancing Local Government Security with Cloud Migration

14th September 2023

Civica’s Mark Burgess explains how Cloud migration increases local government’s data security: protecting the people that matter most

Recent cyber-attacks on cities have resulted in the loss of important data, putting citizens and admin at risk. Moving to secure cloud systems provides the security needed to give local governments peace of mind and save money.

In recent years, we’ve seen a persistent threat of high-profile cyber-attacks on local government. It’s a common tactic for cyber criminals to use ransomware attacks on their targets. Usually, attackers work their way to gaining access to a local government’s on-site systems and delete or encrypt files and data. They’ll then issue a ransom note demanding payment in return for the release of the stolen data.

The public sector has seen an increase in ransomware attacks over recent years. Organizations which use a range of different systems, and which have large numbers of people accessing their network are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats. And with research by Forbes Magazine showing that 44% of global ransomware attacks in 2020 targeted local government, it’s not a threat that is going away any time soon.

Once attacked, they found themselves immediately unable to deliver services, make or receive payments or even access records. It's hard to exaggerate the scale and effect of these incidents. Impacts are mainly felt on three levels: operationally, as they struggle to get back up and running; financially, as revenues are lost and remediation costs pile up; and reputationally, as people question the security of the data that’s held about them.

1. The operational impact

In many cases, it takes offices weeks, or even months, to fully recover from a cyber-attack. Restoring a compromised IT estate can be exceptionally challenging, time-consuming, and stressful for everyone. Local government staff and citizens can be affected by operational disruption.

For the short term, the safest course of action is to shut down all IT systems hosted internally, which can include email and virtual learning environments. To get back up and running operationally, IT teams needed to work overtime, often employing external consultants to help with the workload.

2. The financial impact

For many IT departments, safeguarding infrastructure poses a significant challenge to the budget in many ways. IBM Security’s “2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report” states the global average cost of a breach is $4.3 million--a 13% increase from years past. That’s precious funds that could be used elsewhere to enhance local government infrastructure.

Recovery costs can also extend to hardware that is compromised during attacks – from on-site servers to the devices used by individual staff. These may need replacing and reinstalling, costing thousands of dollars.

3. The reputational impact

You don’t have to do extensive research to discover high-profile reports of organizations who have suffered from cyber-attacks. The negative headlines can be damaging.

Security isn’t optional

Moving to cloud solutions means organizations no longer need to choose between ‘more security’ and ‘better usability’. Many organizations moving to the cloud want to integrate and streamline their processes and operate more efficiently, enabling staff to ease burdensome administrative tasks such as HR, reporting and records management. Administrators and citizens can securely access, amend, and update information from any location. There are also scalability benefits that are not easily available on-premise without in-house system development teams.

Ultimately, local government is tasked with providing high-quality resources for citizens. Resources should rarely be focused on updating and maintaining IT services. By choosing a cloud software supplier, who is responsible for aspects such as security and upgrades, they can focus on improving the citizen experience. Local government can then shift their focus to managing operational costs and forecasting budgets more effectively, rather than on data and software security.

Every cloud has a silver lining

It's not just about security. Today, local government are facing significant challenges around budgets, resources, and compliance. They’re faced with the classic ‘do more with less’ conundrum – deliver a better (mostly digital) service but with less money and fewer people. Migrating to the cloud is an opportunity to improve citizen satisfaction and internal and external communications.

Cloud migration can tackle these challenges from several angles. The self-serve options can cut workloads for internal teams. There’s no IT estate to manage and update because access is via URL on any connected device. Reporting is easier and more powerful. And importantly, costs are predictable.

Cost savings offer another compelling incentive for local governments to adopt a cloud-optimized environment. By only paying for the services that are used, the cloud offers significant opportunities to accelerate the return on investment – as well as eliminate the threat of costly and disruptive workloads from system failures of cyberattacks.

Do more with less. Civica can help protect your data from cybercrime.

Civica's cloud software has the scale and focused expertise that’s needed to combat cyber threats. It’s hosted in highly secure data centers, with its security capabilities constantly updating to reflect the changing threat landscape. They can manage and support learners with no need to secure on-premise hardware and software.

As cyberattacks continue to increase in our ever-more digital world, taking action to move more systems to the secure cloud could be the answer, bringing peace of mind and cost-effective solutions to already money and time-strapped local government across the US.

Discover more about how Civica can help your organization protect the people that matter most. It’s time to start the conversation.