Cyber-crime is becoming an increasingly dangerous and damaging threat for the world as we know it, with tens of millions of cyber-attacks and hacking attempts occurring on a daily basis, and one of the most worrying aspects of all when it comes to cyber-criminals is that they can target absolutely anyone, anywhere, at any time.
No industry has been left untouched by the effects of cyber-crime. We’ve seen countless high-profile cyber-attacks in recent years alone, with major businesses and global enterprises brought to their knees by the actions of just a few skilled hackers and their technological arsenals. Even governments, with their large budgets and powerful defenses, can be at risk of these kinds of attacks.
Indeed, in late 2023, the US government reported that the networks of multiple federal agencies and departments had been successfully breached, potentially putting all kinds of sensitive data into the wrong hands. The potential consequences of these kinds of attacks are worrying to imagine, which is why it’s so important for governments worldwide to take action and bolster their defenses.
Hackers will not stop in their attempts to break into secure governmental networks, and unless governments act in response with the same determination and ruthless efficiency, they will continue to fall victim to these attacks. Fortunately, there are options out there to help, and here are some ways in which governments can start to strengthen their defenses.
Stronger Employee Training
One of the biggest issues with cyber-security, especially for large entities like governmental agencies, is that even if you have the strongest security software and the toughest firewalls, the mistake of just one person can put the entire system at threat. If just one employee accidentally clicks on a phishing link, downloads a virus, visits an unsafe site, or makes use of a password that isn’t strong enough, the whole network can be infiltrated with ease.
This is why employee training is arguably one of the most important parts of cyber-security. No business, institution, or government agency can ever simply believe that strong cyber-security software is enough to keep it safe; you need employees who know how to use that software and people who understand best cyber-security practices. Workers, therefore, have to be trained in everything, from strong password generation to avoiding phishing attacks in their email inboxes.
Stronger Cybersecurity Education from Early Age
Following on from the previous point about educating and informing workers regarding the risks and practices of cyber-security, governments can also make investments in better standards of cyber-security education for the public at large. If the general population is more aware and up to date on the dangers of cyber-attacks and how to prevent them, hackers will have to work a lot harder to trigger these attacks in the first place.
Younger generations are growing up in a technological world, with devices like computers, laptops, and smartphones being integral parts of their everyday existence. These young people need to be informed on the dangers of storing data on these devices without proper protection, but by educating young people on cyber-security, the future can be much brighter for all, including governmental agencies who will be able to bring on new workers who already understand top cyber-security practices.
Working with Hackers
In order to better understand hackers’ motivations and movements, governments can actually work together with so-called ‘white hat’ hackers. These kinds of hackers are regarded as ethical, using their skills and understandings of complex cyber-security systems for the benefit of governments and other agencies, actively working to make cyber-systems stronger.
Having hackers on the side of governments can be beneficial in a lot of different ways. These people are able to see things that even the most seasoned security experts might miss, with their highly trained and experienced eyes able to spot loopholes and weaknesses in certain systems and demonstrate how these systems might be hacked in order to help defend them in the future.
Rewards and Incentives for Hackers
Another way in which governments may choose to work with hackers, rather than against them, is actually by offering rewards and incentives for those who report possible loopholes or exploits in their systems. Typically, a hacker who finds an exploit will know that they can make a lot of money selling it on the dark web, so that’s what many of them do.
If, however, that hacker had an alternative option, with the chance of a better reward from reporting the issue to the appropriate authorities instead, they may be more likely to choose the noble path. This will effectively get more hackers helping to defend against all kinds of attacks, including DNS attacks, which are some of the most easily exploitable ways for hackers to target governments. As EfficientIP explains, government organizations are more vulnerable to certain DNS attack types than companies in other sectors:
When it comes to solving problems, two heads are usually better than one, and the same logic applies in the field of cyber-security too. Having more experienced teams and cyber-security experts working together is never a bad thing, and across the US, we’ve seen various examples of state governments actually forming public-private partnerships.
Security agencies, academic institutions, and other key organizations are starting to work together, forming their own security alliances, sharing information and ideas, keeping each other up to date on the latest findings, and putting their heads together to come up with new ways to combat threats and help one another stay safe.
It’s clear to see that governments have to act now in order to protect against cyber-attacks and threats. The number of threats is rising with every passing day, as hackers are always coming up with new ways to hit their targets and infiltrate networks and systems across the globe.
Governments have to be even more proactive, working tirelessly with ethical hackers, other agencies, and security experts to strengthen their defenses and build a world in which these kinds of cyber-attacks are much less likely to succeed.