Strengthen the cyber-resilience of our public services

A collaborative approach between the public and private sectors can make digital public services more resilient, says George Maybury

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George Maybury, Dell Technologies Ireland


In association with Dell Technologies Ireland

Ongoing initiatives to digitally transform public sector services today will directly impact the long-term well-being of citizens and protect the economies of tomorrow.

However, to realize the true potential of an efficient new public sector, we must seize the opportunities of our data-driven era, not only by preparing for innovative technologies, but also by confronting head-on the growing threats of cyberattacks and ransomware.

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By placing greater emphasis on cybersecurity in the recently released National Digital Strategy and planning to strengthen the National Cybersecurity Center by working with technology leaders from the private and public sectors, Ireland has the opportunity to propel digital government services citizen-centric and, above all, cyber-secure.

Vulnerabilities

Cyberattacks happen every 11 seconds and cost the Irish economy €9.6 billion in 2020 alone. But the human cost is immeasurable. From healthcare organizations supporting patients with e-health services, to virtually connected classrooms at all levels, our public sector today relies heavily on digital technologies to function. This is why, with an increased reliance on data, cyberattacks can be catastrophic for those who continue to provide the services we rely on as citizens.

Preventive cyber technology is constantly evolving with new innovations to protect data and keep pace with ever-evolving cyber threats. However, a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors in Ireland can help maximize the cyber resilience of digital public services as the range of these services expands.

As organizations come together to build stronger common defenses against cyberattacks, so do the brightest cyber experts, CIOs, and public sector leaders. Representing a large-scale global security issue, ransomware is everyone’s problem and could hamper progress in Ireland if not tackled decisively.

Data protection

Data is quickly becoming the lifeblood of public sector organizations in Ireland as they seek to digitize and improve the services they provide to citizens. But accelerated digital transformations have created increasing complexities – and data protection must evolve to meet new demands.

We have witnessed this trend over the past two years. While remote access to social services, supported by always-on digital platforms, has boosted accessibility and streamlined efficiency, it has also dramatically increased the amount of data the public sector processes.

With the Dell Technologies Data Paradox survey highlighting that 75% of organizations have experienced an increase in demand for data over the past three years, it is more important than ever that key decision makers place intrinsic security around this data and at the heart of their digital strategies. Maintaining trust in the digital innovations that underpin future economies and social well-being is essential to sustaining progress. It starts with holistic cybersecurity.

As public sector organizations in Ireland seek to build cyber resilience, it is essential to focus on their most critical data – from court records with images and digital sheets from attendants to classrooms, data purpose of diagnostic systems and health surveys. Placing this critical data in a vault helps ensure that it is isolated, cannot be altered, and can be quickly recovered in the event of an attack, allowing services health to get back up and running quickly.

As part of our cyber product offering at Dell Technologies, we have developed a cyber safe. This provides the ultimate protection for critical healthcare data. It provides a fast, easy-to-deploy public cloud vault that keeps critical data away from attack and isolates it in a secure, automated operational airspace. Our vault solution can be a building block of cyber resilience in this critical era of digital transformation in societies and economies.

better together

Data protection requires a “people, process and best technology solutions” approach. While there is no 100% foolproof antidote or approach, it is essential to have a cyber strategy in place that focuses on all three areas.

Cybersecurity is changing rapidly to keep pace with cybercriminals, which means that cyberstrategies must also constantly evolve, with stress testing and continuous assessments to ensure they are fit for purpose. Planning and preparation are vital. This is not a journey that utility providers can travel alone.

But the risks of not acting now far outweigh the short-term cost of investing in stricter cyber strategies. Progress is at stake. It relies on technological innovations that require patient trust, continuity and reliability.

Take the potential of Digital Twin technology, which is the subject of one of the modules of the Digital Futures in Healthcare program developed by Dell Technologies with the HSE. A digital twin is a digital copy of an asset. By running simulations on this digital asset, computer scientists and researchers can study it and predict real-world outcomes based on changes in its digital operating conditions.

This innovation is transforming the industry and enabling healthcare facilities to address pressing challenges, from personalizing care to tackling patient wait times. The powerful combination of digital twin, IoT, AI and data analytics will improve patient outcomes and hospital performance.

But it must be backed by rigorous cybersecurity to scale with the trust of patients and healthcare providers — and stay operational in the event of a ransomware attack.

Ransomware is a global challenge, and open, multi-stakeholder approaches across all sectors will help Irish organizations strengthen their defences. The nature of health care makes them particularly vulnerable, and the stakes are high as they build global and national resilience beyond the pandemic.

Ensuring the viability of public sector innovations with best-in-class e-strategies will benefit everyone, everywhere. As we seek to transform our digital public services to benefit teachers, our justice system, local authorities, patients and healthcare workers, prioritizing cybersecurity and resilience will become more than a hot topic. – it’s a lifesaver.

George Maybury is Director of Public Sector, Dell Technologies Ireland