By Graham Bushkes, VP Sales, Public Sector, Canada for Fortinet
Security has always been a critical factor for public sector IT teams. For them, COVID-19 introduced new challenges, but it’s also accelerated trends that have been apparent for some time.
As we begin to close on a tumultuous 2020 and look to a semi-permanent new normal, now is the ideal time for public decision makers to step back, take stock of what they’ve been through, and lay the groundwork for a long-term strategy that will offer employees and citizens alike, secure access to the data and tools they need.
First and foremost, explore a platform-based approach to security. Even pre-COVID, it was becoming harder for IT teams to get control and visibility into their data and applications. They used to sit in a well-defined secure zone. Now they move between different users, devices and networks, which greatly expands the potential attack surface. COVID-19 greatly accelerated this trend, as many workers routinely access networks from home, often using less-than-optimal devices to do so.
The answer to this is to lay the groundwork for an architecture that is nimble and scalable. The right platform approach brings together the WAN, data centres, multi-cloud and endpoints into a single, easy-to-manage layer. Not only will IT teams get a full view of the digital attack surface, it also changes the game, giving all of these elements the ability to automatically talk to each other, provide coordinated responses, and reduce the workload on people tasked with network security.
Next, focus on solutions that are proven to work beyond the next procurement cycle. Secure SD-WAN is a perfect example of this. It’s one of the fastest growing technologies around, due to its ability to deliver optimal security across branch locations and field sites, and improve network performance. SD-WAN is the fastest and most effective way to establish a robust security platform.
Finally, don’t overlook training. With new skilled talent hard to find, it’s worth focusing on ways to reduce the workload on your existing IT teams and find ways to make cybersecurity part of the overall company culture. Make sure employees know how to spot malicious email, texts or web sites, and stress the importance of following security protocols. Be sure to extend training to IT teams as well. People who gravitate to IT are by nature, life-long learners and there are likely some who have an interest in cybersecurity. Fortinet recently made some elements of our Fortinet NSE Institute available to people free of charge, making it easy to weave it in as part of a training program.
Public sector leaders are juggling many priorities, but the benefits of a robust security approach is hard to overstate. Now’s the time to start laying the groundwork for long-term success.