The Impact of Government Cybersecurity on Businesses

The Impact of Government Cybersecurity on Businesses

Governments possess access to sensitive data and oversee critical infrastructure that could be targeted by cyberattackers, and they must prepare themselves for this new threat landscape.

Investment in cybersecurity is money well spent; failure to act could result in crippled services, enormous expenses due to breach remediation efforts, and even loss of public trust.

Damages to Confidential Information

Cybersecurity breaches can result in fines, loss of business or irreparable reputational damage for any organization, with fines being levied against individuals as well as fines being levied against businesses hacked and their customers’ personal data compromised; theft may occur of intellectual property and disruptions may ensue to operations. A cybersecurity breach affecting customer data can particularly harm an organization’s image as this exposes sensitive customer data compromising trust in how the organization protects data and sensitive information.

Cyberattacks can severely disrupt businesses and government organizations, leading to downtime and lost productivity. Ransomware attacks, for instance, may encrypt files so they are inaccessible, which prevent employees from working and could result in the breakdown of key systems or services such as payment processing; it could even disrupt public services like schools and hospitals.

Hackers can access and steal confidential data from businesses that they then sell or use as blackmail material on the dark web or use to blackmail employees and contractors. Such information includes personal details, banking or credit card account numbers and more. Each month high-profile breaches affecting individuals are reported globally; in 2014 alone the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was breached, exposing data on over 20 million federal workers and applicants which resulted in free credit monitoring by government for those impacted.

Many government entities fail to prioritize cybersecurity due to not being subject to as many direct compliance requirements, like small businesses are. Furthermore, funds may be scarce making implementing mature measures and devising an incident response plan difficult tasks.

Government agencies should invest in cybersecurity solutions and services from NITAAC that offer protection from threats of all kinds – NITAAC offers the solutions and expertise required for this to take place.

Businesses and governments must work together in order to combat cyberattacks effectively, sharing intelligence and cooperating more closely. With attacks continuously evolving and no single entity being capable of fighting off cybercriminals alone – as evidenced by SolarWinds hack – collaboration among all entities must take place if we hope to defeat cybercrime effectively.

Damages to Infrastructure

Every day, the government must fend off thousands of cyberattacks from adversaries ranging from simple phishing emails to massive data breaches that threaten national security assets. With cybercrime becoming ever more sophisticated and threats becoming ever more frequent in a digitalized world, protecting federal agencies becomes ever more challenging as hackers seek access to all that data. If hackers gain entry, the consequences could be catastrophic.

With cyberweapons and hacker tool kits at their disposal, malicious actors have an arsenal of cyber weapons to strike at critical infrastructure and cause real world damage. Russia was accused of breaking into Ukraine’s power grid via remote access and creating blackouts affecting hundreds of thousands of people – this kind of attack could also happen here if vulnerabilities are targeted effectively.

Private sector businesses have suffered greatly from cyber attacks targeting their infrastructures, with losses often reaching millions of dollars and crippling disruption to operations. Companies experiencing attacks may pay ransom fees to recover files or even be shut down by attackers attempting to breach them completely. Attacks targeting government infrastructures can be even more detrimental; successful attacks against this infrastructure could prove even more devastating for society at large.

As our world moves toward an increasingly digital future, the government must improve its security measures to match evolving threats. Many issues that plague small business owners such as unauthorized disclosure and malware can be avoided with adequate measures in place; such as making sure all devices are encrypted as well as making employees aware of risks associated with transporting unencrypted data between work and home.

Governments should work collaboratively with businesses in order to protect their infrastructures from cyberattacks by installing cyber security solutions for local government, which will enable more effective measures than simply countering individual attacks. FBI Director Christopher Wray has called for the creation of a national cybersecurity director as part of public-private collaboration; this would make communicating and coordinating across businesses much simpler than having each department fight their battles in isolation.

Damages to Customer Relationships

The internet has become the lifeblood of numerous businesses, from multi-billion dollar ecommerce titans to neighborhood coffee shops and upstart entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, its proliferation allows cybercriminals to conduct devastating cyberattacks that threaten cities, states and even our entire nation. As cyberattacks increase in size and sophistication, public-private collaboration becomes ever more apparent; rather than taking on threats alone, both the federal government and private sector should collaborate on comprehensive responses against them.

Cyberattacks can be costly to any business on many fronts – financially, reputationally and legally. Beyond direct costs associated with data restoration services and restoration costs for customer data breaches, businesses may experience loss of customer confidence which has long-term repercussions in our increasingly global economy.

Companies are beginning to recognize the significance of cybersecurity. They’re reconsidering how they store data and personal information and implementing measures to thwart cyberattacks; for instance, some no longer store customers’ credit card or Social Security numbers but instead rely on two-factor authentication requiring users to enter a code sent via phone or email as proof of their identity to verify themselves – these safeguards make it harder for cybercriminals gain access to sensitive data or launch ransomware attacks.

However, more work must be done by both federal and local government entities to improve information sharing and coordination with private sectors as well as create better policies to detect, prevent and respond to cyber attacks.

Local governments should take measures to enhance their cybersecurity as well. This may involve employing cloud-based solutions, switching to an domain address and encrypting sensitive data. In addition, training employees on proper cyber hygiene, such as not opening suspicious emails and creating strong passwords.

Finally, the federal government must enhance its capacity to learn from past cyberattacks and implement improvements as quickly as possible. To accomplish this goal, they should work closely with industry leaders and prioritize cybersecurity across our nation’s businesses.

Damages to Brand Image

In 2014, the federal government learned an invaluable lesson when the Office of Personnel Management, which hosts all personal information of government employees and applicants for jobs with them, was breached. This breach exposed 20 million individuals’ information. This breach damaged public trust in government as many worried whether their own information was safe. As a result of such breaches, businesses need to be open about their cybersecurity protections so customers and business partners know who they can patronize that are committed to keeping their privacy safe.

Cyber threats are complex; therefore, the best way to defend against them is through cooperation between private and public sectors. Governments can provide invaluable intelligence regarding cyberattacks while business owners can assist by sharing this data with their government counterparts. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t happen enough in most nations; some do have forums which bring together governments and businesses together in response to cyber attacks such as CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration) in the US or National Cyber Security Centre in the UK as examples of such initiatives.

However, these efforts are neither consistent nor timely enough and some government officials fear informing business leaders of potential risks to their operations for fear of facing unnecessary scrutiny or restrictions on them. Instead, trust must be built between business leaders and government representatives so they can exchange sensitive information freely in a mutually beneficial manner.

Training employees who require it is also key to increasing cybersecurity. With threats constantly shifting and evolving, even experienced IT professionals may require ongoing education on best practices for cybersecurity to keep their organizations safe. Knowbe4 services offer training on best cybersecurity practices while giving employees confidence in recognizing risks and responding accordingly.

Small businesses in particular can reap great benefits from this kind of training, as their lack of resources and knowledge leaves them susceptible to cyberattacks that wreak havoc across economies. Furthermore, these attacks can be costly: last year alone the average ransomware payment was more than $200,000. Therefore it is vital that small businesses recognize the significance of investing in cybersecurity rather than taking an ad hoc approach when responding to an ever-evolving threat landscape.


Jeremy Lawson