Is your Government Data Secure in the Public Cloud?
 In Microsoft Azure, Risk Management

Long hampered by regulatory red tape and bogged down in bureaucracy, government organizations have traditionally been laggards when it comes to adopting cloud computing. However, the winds of change are not only blowing when it comes to government cloud adoption—they’re bringing the cloud with them.

According to a recent Gartner report, almost half of government organizations are actively using cloud services, and government spending on cloud is expected to grow an average of 17.1% per year through 2021 as more governments at the federal, provincial/state and municipal levels recognize the benefits that the cloud can provide. Those benefits specifically include:

  • Providing digital services on par with experiences in the consumer market
  • Leveraging a framework that provides the agility necessary to keep pace with changes in legislation and service offerings
  • Minimizing the cost associated with deployment and management

In a sign of the times, the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada have released ‘cloud-first’ adoption strategies that make cloud solutions the preference for new IT deployments, rather than the exception.

While the needs for public sector employees to leverage the benefits of the cloud isn’t markedly different from their private sector counterparts, government considerations for cloud deployments are integral—particularly in regards to storing sensitive data. When it comes time for governmental organizations to identify a cloud partner, it makes sense for government agencies of any size to choose one with a proven history of providing cloud services that meet the rigorous security and compliance standards required.

Identifying the Right Cloud for Government

If you think data security is front of mind in the private sector, the public sector is an entirely different world. Due to the sensitive nature of public data, and the heightened risk of a breach or cyber attack, cloud service providers must meet a number of standards to ensure that data remains secure.

Compliance with these standards can take many different forms—either through certification (such as the U.S Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program or Department of Defense), state or province-level agreements, regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and more. Through years of partnering with government organizations, Microsoft Azure for Government has been able to offer some of the most comprehensive certification options available.

Government requirements can also extend to the physical hosting of the data. To prevent against downtime or data loss in the event of a natural disaster or attack, data should be backed up in multiple redundant geo-locations. In the case of Microsoft Azure for Government, data centers are located at least 500 miles from each other and data centers are staffed exclusively by U.S. personnel who have been screened extensively and passed background checks—ensuring that data remains safe from both internal and external threats.

When it comes to data security, government cloud customers should also ensure data is stored in an isolated instance intended solely for government data. And, as the risk of cyber attacks increases, government administrators should have access to state-of-the-art threat detection and monitoring solutions to proactively identify potential threats or data breaches—as well as controls over internal security measures such as mobile device management and two-factor authentication to limit increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks or unauthorized access in the event of a lost or stolen device.

The Benefits of Taking your Government to the Cloud

Managing an ever-changing list of security requirements and compliance standards can be a full-time job in and of itself; partnering with a cloud service provider not only offloads this responsibility, but it also reduces the overhead necessary for increasingly budget-conscious government organizations and their IT departments.

Adopting a cloud solution also ensures that the technology underpinning your security is always innovating and developing to stay ahead of emerging threats and employing state-of-the-art solutions. Today’s cyber threats and risks to data are ephemeral and rapidly evolving—relying on a cloud deployment developed exclusively with government organizations in mind can ensure that you’re always one step ahead of any potential risk.

Enhanced security isn’t the only benefit of migrating your government to the cloud—governments are now able to ensure cost certainty around IT expenses thanks to monthly subscription costs over variable hardware and labor costs that come with managing their own internal servers. And with the cloud, government employees are now able to achieve new levels of productivity thanks to the ability to collaborate better both internally and with external agencies—opening new opportunities when it comes to data sharing and identifying opportunities for workflow and policy improvement, all in better service of the citizen.

Choose a Partner with Proven Public Sector Experience

As government agencies look to improve productivity while ensuring compliance and security, they’ll want to partner with a cloud organization with a proven track record of helping agencies run more efficiently while reducing overhead, better securing their data, and remaining compliant. With years of experience partnering with governments big and small, ensuring compliance, and helping public sector organizations find greater operational efficiency, OnActuate can help. We understand the security and IT challenges you face and have helped many government and public agencies achieve Digital Transformation. Contact us to find out how.

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