How Cloud Computing Can Increase Security in the Public Sector
Public sector organizations in government, education, and healthcare are using cloud computing to save costs, gain process efficiencies, and improve service delivery without compromising core requirements and institutional values. According to Gartner, almost half of the government organizations are actively using cloud services. With double-digit growth in public cloud services in government forecasted through 2021, cloud adoption continues to grow at a state and local level.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and due to the sensitive nature of public data and the heightened risk of a breach, public sector organizations are facing growing concerns over cloud security and compliance to meet their unique technical, organizational, procedural, and regulatory issues. In this blog post, we are going to discuss four major security concerns of cloud computing in the public sector and share ways to address these security issues within your organization.
Security Concerns in the Public Sector
Traditional approaches to security in the public sector have been siloed, where organizations patch together a range of security products to oversee individual parts of the IT infrastructure. As cloud adoption expands and demands for shareable data increases, the public sector faces several issues in the area of cloud security. Here are some of the more prominent concerns:
- Data Governance
Cloud computing raises important questions of ownership and accountability across a public sector organization. There are questions about who should manage which resources, who should pay for services that are shared, and what new organizational approaches are needed. Data governance becomes a major issue when sensitive data is stored in locations outside institutional and territorial boundaries.
In the case of public sector organizations, the need to safeguard sensitive information, privacy, and intellectual property is paramount. From malware and ransomware to crypto–jacking, a cloud environment without the proper security monitoring, threat protection, data loss prevention, and recovery measures in place is vulnerable and at risk.
To stay competitive and meet modern workplace expectations, public organizations have to find secure cloud solutions that deliver better ways for employees and citizens to access data, share information, and interact from anywhere. While many mobile solutions are designed for increased productivity and flexibility, public sector organizations need to focus on device security and data controls.
When transitioning to cloud computing, public sector organizations must be sure they can comply with all relevant regulatory regulations. Cloud solutions need to be able to manage the ever-changing list of security requirements and compliance standards, from the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law.
How Cloud Computing Improves Security
Despite the strong cloud security concerns, many organizations in the public sector are realizing that cloud models are the way forward to strategic IT modernization, innovation, and cost savings. Cloud computing gives public sector organizations the opportunity to take advantage of world-class security and threat protection services, meet critical compliance standards and government regulatory requirements, and modernize their IT infrastructure.
Here are some of the ways that cloud computing meets and, in some ways, exceeds existing security demands in the public sector.
Data governance is essential to establishing control and maintaining visibility into your data. With cloud computing solutions, you are adopting a unified, network-based platform with a flexible security architecture to manage all aspects of your infrastructure. Your IT department gains full visibility into where all data is stored and can monitor and control how it is being used while protecting it from being leaked or stolen.
To protect sensitive data from leaks, prevent state-funded attacks, and secure public services from disruption, you need to monitor your operations and correct your vulnerabilities constantly. From initial risk assessment to emergency backup and recovery, cloud computing solutions can help deliver seamless protection of critical infrastructure, systems, and data by assessing risk, monitoring for threats, and putting the necessary defenses, such as disaster recovery and backups, in place. Here are some cybersecurity capabilities that can help:
- Risk assessment
- Threats and vulnerability analysis
- Incident detection and response
- Compliance and training
- Plans, policies and procedures
- Integration and testing
Mobility is a strategic asset used to boost productivity, attract top talent, and improve responsiveness to the public. But when it comes to mobile and connected devices, public sector organizations have some of the most demanding security requirements. Cloud computing solutions can enable quicker access to data and simplify collaboration and sharing – but there needs to be a strong security policy in place to minimize risk and layers of defence built into the devices being used to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data if a device is lost or stolen. Many public sector organizations have a “zero-trust” policy in place that validates a device, checks app authorization, verifies the network, and detects and remediates threats before granting secure access to the user.
Cloud computing solution vendors are constantly updating and adding new security and compliance–related features and security enhancements. These continuous improvements get rolled out into the latest version and help you keep up with changing policies and regulations. In order to provide the highest level of security and compliance, companies like Microsoft and AWS have developed infrastructures specifically tailored to government entities.
AWS offers cloud computing services tailor-made to the security and compliance needs of the U.S. federal government and its various agencies. These infrastructures and services are fully compliant with FedRAMP—the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program that assesses, authorizes, and monitors cloud products and services for the federal government.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has developed Microsoft Cloud for Government which includes Azure Government, Microsoft 365 for U.S. Government, and Dynamics 365 CRM Online Government—all of which support more than 72 compliance frameworks. Microsoft has 8 dedicated government regions, which offer three tiers of government cloud services: Government Community Cloud (GCC) for state, local, and federal agencies; GCC High for government customers handling more sensitive activities; and DoD Cloud, specifically for the Department of Defense.
Work with a Partner with Proven Public Sector Experience
There is a perception among public sector organizations that cloud solution vendors do not fully understand their complex security and compliance needs. After years of experience working with government agencies and various public sector organizations around the world, we can offer you a different experience. At OnActuate, we have a proven history of helping public sector organizations transition to the cloud while reducing overhead, optimizing operations, protecting sensitive data, and meeting the appropriate compliance standards. We understand the unique security and IT infrastructure challenges you are currently facing and can help you choose and implement the best solution for your needs. Contact us to find out how.
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