IT security within local government is sub-standard, survey reveals

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29th July 2015 13:10 - Local Government

A recent survey of 2,728 local government and police workers, by cyber security company, Sophos, has revealed that only 41 per cent of UK IT security within local government is sub-standard, survey revealsGovernment organisations feel that their existing IT security measures protect against cyber-crime to a good standard.

Of the respondents in the survey, only 50 per cent said that they were not sure if their cyber security practices are to a good standard, which highlights a low level of knowledge relating to cyber-crime across local government.

The participants revealed that in the last 12 months, 90 per cent of local government and police organisations had been impacted by budget cuts.

As a result, the budget cuts prompted job losses (67 per cent) and cuts to overall front line services (63 per cent) across a variety of different areas of the organisations.

Of the respondents, 62 per cent said that they were planning to save money by increasing and implementing shared services, which would divide the cost across other neighbouring organisations.

Only 30 per cent of the respondents said that their organisations were looking into the consolidation of current IT services to cut costs. As well as this, just 9 per cent said that they were looking into consolidating their IT security systems.

The survey also explored the public sector’s views on what are the biggest drivers for change, from an IT security angle. Of the participants, 59 per cent said that there is a demand for further remote and mobile working practices. As well as this, 46 per cent said that there has been an increase in awareness surrounding data security as a result of high profile security breaches and the upcoming EU legislation.

The respondents were also asked what their main concerns were from an IT security angle. From this question, the researchers discovered that problems surrounding data loss (47 per cent) were at the top of the agenda, as well as remote access (31 per cent) and targeted attacks (25 per cent).

The researchers found that irrespective of the move towards more remote and mobile working policies, organisations within the public sector are still dubious about utilising flexible cloud storage solutions; with just 16 per cent of the respondents admitting to using such technologies. This was a surprising discovery, as serious issues such as shadow IT (11 per cent) and BYOD (18 per cent) factored very low on the list of worries, which suggested that it possibly is not something at the front of local government’s security professional’s minds.

In contrast with this, 63 per cent of local government workers who took part in the survey believed that encryption was moving towards being a necessity within their organisation.

James Vyvyan, Regional Vice President of Sophos UK and Ireland, said of the findings:

“With cybercrime at an all-time high and public sector budgets reducing year-on-year, it’s more important than ever that organisations maximise the resources available to them. There is a clear trend towards local authorities partnering with neighbouring authorities to increase and implement shared services.

“This collaborative approach is certainly helpful in the fight against cybercrime. Our research indicates that local authorities and police may also be missing the opportunity to consolidate their IT and security technologies, which can deliver further savings, helping to protect jobs and frontline services.”

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