Local Authorities

Empowering Progress and Ensuring Safety – Securing Your Local Authorities From Cyber Threats

Local authorities in the public sector are prime targets for cyber criminals, inherently due to amount and nature of sensitive data they hold and the critical services they provide to our communities. Furthermore, much of this data is also shared between organisations and departments as part of modern governance and improving the delivery of public services.

There is an urgent need for comprehensive cybersecurity measures that local authorities need to implement. Beyond financial losses, cyber incidents can jeopardise the privacy of local citizens, which diminishes the assurance the public places in their local authorities and hinders the delivery of essential services. Furthermore, the interconnected nature of digital infrastructure further amplifies the impact of potential cyber incidents, necessitating a proactive strategy to remain robust in the face of cyber threats.

Cyber Security Failures

In recent years, local authorities within the public sector have faced numerous notable cybersecurity failures that underscore the need for implementing robust security strategies and technologies to protect themselves and their citizens.

In 2023, it was found that UK councils have disclosed nearly 1,500 data breaches in a year alone, with Suffolk County Council as one example having over 600 incidents in the first three quarters of the year.

In the US, the city of Atlanta fell victim to a ransomware attack in 2018, encrypting essential and sensitive data until a hefty ransom was paid for its release. While it may sound relatively simple at a first glance, the consequence of this attack was a significant financial loss, as well as the disruption of key municipal services and other widespread disruptions.

While data breaches are becoming a common, almost daily occurrence nowadays, local authorities have shown strength in disclosing and reporting of cybersecurity incidents. However, with the number and frequency of incidents increasing, and an evolving cyber threat landscape, local authorities should investigate improving their cybersecurity capabilities to prevent the possibility of posed threats and mitigate any attack.

Safeguarding is Imperative

Protecting local authorities against cyber threats involves a multi-faceted strategy. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Robust cybersecurity policies and procedures
  • Regular training for all personnel
  • Advanced threat detection and response mechanisms
  • Investment in secure infrastructure

This, and the existing mechanisms that supplement incident reporting and transparency can significantly improve their protection capabilities.