10 Cyber Security Best Practices for the Public Sector

Evelyn Woodland

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, cyber threats have become increasingly sophisticated, posing significant risks to businesses and individuals alike. Ensuring robust cyber security practices has never been more crucial. To safeguard your digital realm effectively, it is essential to implement a comprehensive and proactive approach. In this blog, we will explore the ten cyber security practices for the public sector that will help build resilience against potential cyber-attacks.

  1. Risk Management
  2. Engagement and Training
  3. Asset Management
  4. Architecture and Configuration
  5. Vulnerability Management
  6. Identity and Access Management
  7. Data Security
  8. Logging and Monitoring
  9. Incident Management
  10. Supply Chain Security
Risk Management

The foundation of any strong cyber security strategy is a thorough risk assessment. Identify and analyse potential vulnerabilities and threats that could impact your organisation. Conducting a risk assessment enables you to prioritise security efforts, allocate resources effectively, and develop tailored security measures to address specific risks. In order to do this think about what your organisation does and what risk you might take with technology to achieve your aims.

Engagement and Training

Employees are often the first line of defence against cyber threats. Educate your workforce about cyber security best practices, the latest threats, and how to recognise and report suspicious activities. Promote a culture of security awareness, encouraging employees to be proactive in safeguarding sensitive information and assets. This culture of security needs to come from the top, if senior employees are seen to get special treatment or ignore security policies then the rest of the organisation can see that the rules are not for everyone. One of the biggest things employees can do is report issues and flag suspicious activity, early detection can be key to stopping cyber-attacks.

Asset Management

Knowing your digital assets and understanding their value is essential. Create an inventory of all hardware, software, and data that your organisation possesses. This inventory helps in monitoring and controlling access, allowing you to secure critical assets more effectively. One of the biggest cyber security issues in the UK is legacy systems. Creating an inventory of assets can help keep track of systems that might become a risk and also create a plan for phasing out risky systems.

Architecture and Configuration

Design a secure network and system architecture that follows industry best practices. Regularly update and patch your systems to fix vulnerabilities and keep them up-to-date. Implementing secure configurations reduces the attack surface and enhances overall cyber resilience. When building a system, take in to account existing platforms and products you have so you can leverage using those in your network.

Vulnerability Management

Stay vigilant in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in your systems and software. Perform regular vulnerability scans and penetration testing to detect weaknesses before malicious actors exploit them. Swiftly apply patches and updates to fix these vulnerabilities and enhance your security. Legacy systems can be extremely vulnerable, so if it is not possible to update or upgrade these systems it might be best to segregate them from the rest of the network. This safeguard can protect public sector networks if the legacy systems gets compromised.

Identity and Access Management

Implement strong identity and access management practices to ensure that only authorised users have access to sensitive data and resources. Enforce multi-factor authentication, strong password policies, and role-based access controls to minimise the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches. Ensure that policies for employees for security do not just cover systems in your network but also other places that your organisation can be identified.

Data Security

Protecting sensitive data is paramount as data is now as valuable as gold. Utilise encryption and data classification to safeguard information both in transit and at rest. Regularly back up critical data and establish secure data handling procedures to reduce the impact of potential data breaches. Follow the popular ‘3-2-1’ rule, have at least 3 copies, on 2 devices and 1 offsite backup.

Logging and Monitoring

Maintain detailed logs of system activities to track potential security incidents and analyse their impact. Real-time monitoring of network traffic and system logs can help detect unusual activities, enabling you to respond promptly to potential threats. Test your system regularly and include any insight from actual incidents.

Incident Management

Have a well-defined incident response plan in place to handle security breaches effectively. Designate incident response teams and outline clear procedures for reporting, assessing, and mitigating security incidents. Regularly test and update the response plan to stay prepared for emerging threats. Ensure that staff also know the plan and communicate clearly to all stakeholders involved. When an incident has been mitigated, ensure you not only analyse what went wrong but also what worked well for the future.

Supply Chain Security

Assess the security of your third-party vendors and partners as they could be potential entry points for attackers. Implement strict security standards in your supply chain, ensuring that all entities handling your data meet the necessary security requirements. Build trust and partnerships with your suppliers and share key insights with them. Working together collectively between the public sector and private sector suppliers can make a stronger and more secure supply chain for all.

Cyber security is an ongoing process that demands constant vigilance and adaptation to the evolving threat landscape. This blog is just a short overview you can learn more about the ten steps from the National Cyber Security Centre. Investing in cyber security is not just a protective measure; it's an essential investment in the long-term success and reputation of your organisation. Stay informed, proactive, and prepared to tackle the challenges of the digital world by joining us at this year’s Cyber Security and Data Summit. Now entering its 14th year, the summit is the meeting place for public sector IT security leaders and this year we look to build infrastructure resilience and secure UK’s Cyber capabilities to fight domestic and international threats. Complimentary passes are available for the public sector, find out more below.


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