The Importance of Website Security for Local Government

Written by Jessica Marabella

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The goal of the month-long campaign is to raise awareness about cybersecurity and make the Internet safer and more secure for everyone. Adopting tested, proven cybersecurity systems is critical for all organizations, especially local government. This month, learn about the unique threats that local governments face, and how you can protect your citizens from cyber attacks.

The White House recently announced that it will be implementing a comprehensive new plan to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity capabilities. With the number of digital hacks on both the private and public sector, the President is asking for all citizens and leaders of local government to take reinforced efforts to protect digital assets and strengthen cybersecurity capabilities.

Federal Regulations

The newly established Cyber Security National Action Plan (CNAP) details the need to combat the increasing number of threats to all areas of digital security. CNAP outlines several action items intended to meet the President's goal of protecting both federal and public digital information sources. This includes creating the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, and a federal chief information security officer (CISO). The commission will be comprised of top strategic minds from the private sector that will be responsible for making recommendations to improve the nation's cybersecurity capabilities. A Federal Privacy Council has also been established to create a framework to better protect citizen information and create a shared learning environment across multiple government agencies.

The Impact to Local Governments

While such reinforcements are being built at the federal level, local governments are equally tasked with safeguarding citizen and government data as they are just as vulnerable to data breaches. In 2014, 15 percent of all cyber attacks impacted the public sector, a number that doubled from the year prior. Each year, such attacks plague local governments with software and hardware replacements, lost revenue, missing data, financial theft, and loss of citizen trust. With the loss of data and information, municipalities become liable for any falsification and abuse of the stolen information.

>>Click here for more information on keeping your website safe from hackers.

With the increase in political affairs and civil unrest, local government websites are becoming more prone to hacktivist groups and other cyberattackers. In 2015, a CivicPlus® high profile customer experienced an issue in its community that caught the attention of one such group of cyberattackers, which led to an infiltration of its government website. The hacking compromised the city's ability to keep citizens informed through an online presence. With its website down, city officials reached out to CivicPlus for assistance. Within one week CivicPlus was able to provide a secured website for the city  along with the most secure hosting and disaster recovery plan to prevent another hacktivist attack. 

Security & Hosting Protection

For local governments seeking partnership with website vendors, it's crucial to gather information about the vendor's hosting, security, and data center. Often times, municipalities choose to personally host their websites and combine them with their phone, email, and financial systems all on their internal network. However, when one item comes under cyber attack, it becomes easier to bring down all other systems on that same network. Having a secured hosting facility for your website ensures that your information is protected no matter where your municipality is located.

CivicPlus's security and hosting services offer local governments the most advanced levels of protection from such cyber attacks. As the nation's leader in government website management, CivicPlus is committed to safeguarding citizen and government data using the latest advancements in cybersecurity monitoring and protections.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDos) Mitigation

A DDos attack is an attempt where hackers flood a website with an immense amount of traffic using multiple devices and IP addresses. Without DDos mitigation and recovery plans in place, the website becomes unavailable and its data becomes lost. In the event of an attempted breach, CivicSecurity has processes in place to identify the attack source and type, and monitor activity for unusual levels of traffic. CivicSecurity incorporates its defined and pressure-tested DDoS mitigation protocol into every website it builds to identify and combat digital threats.

For instance, in 2014 after a community event led cyberattackers to target the local government website of another high profile CivicPlus customer, CivicPlus assisted the city with secured DDoS mitigation to halt and prohibit the future hacking of its website. Since then, the website has remained unhacked with 99.7% uptime through CivicPlus' top security protocols and hosting services.

Protecting Your Website

Each year CivicPlus invests over a million dollars in strengthening its hosting and security capabilities. Each annual investment allows CivicPlus to adapt to the rapidly increasing and continually changing security landscape. This includes a highly reliable data center, a fully redundant network, and system monitoring solutions managed from a highly secure facility.

In the case of an attempted hack, the CivicPlus team works with the local government to offer options to eliminate the threat with minimal, if any, downtime or citizen impact. Working in tandem with server management and monitoring, CivicSecurity's continual software database updates and antivirus management tools ensure that each local government website is never put at risk due to complacent security systems. CivicSecurity's commitment to constant updates and oversights has proven successful in safeguarding the information of over 2,500 managed government websites.

To determine how your current website performs in the area of speed, readability, broken links, and mobility, click below for a free, third-party website performance evaluation report.

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