A main challenge for public sector agencies is ensuring they have skilled security pros who understand the importance of deploying digital technologies securely.
Our research shows just how powerful the implementation of emerging technologies can be in increasing employee engagement: Eighty percent of respondents believe these technologies will improve job satisfaction among current employees.
Moreover, cyber-security professionals are more likely to want to work for an organization that uses advanced tools and technologies. By deploying the latest technologies within their operations, public service agencies will gain a reputation for being technically advanced and will attract the skilled employees they need to secure their systems and operations.
An engaged employee population not only improves the retention of skilled cyber-security professionals, it also provides opportunities to reduce the cyber-security skills gap among broader employee groups through shared learning and skills transfers—further helping to guard against security threats.
Human error accounts for most cyber-security incidents, so agencies must actively engage, train and educate all employees about how to recognize and prevent threats. Basic security steps—such as training staff in how to recognize phishing emails, the importance of regularly changing their passwords, and regularly testing their knowledge of cyber-security threats—are central to an effective cyber-security strategy.
Harnessing Citizen Support
A recent Accenture survey identified a strong desire among citizens to work with government to fight cyber-crime and ensure data privacy and security. More than half of respondents (58 percent) said they would undertake national service of some kind to support these efforts.
Some forward-thinking government agencies have already begun to leverage citizen support to enhance cyber-security defenses. They recognize that even if they’re able to attract, train and retain a skilled cyber-security team that fully understands the growing impact of emerging technologies, they can’t tackle all security threats alone.
U.S. defense agencies have successfully hosted hackathons where members of their workforce and the public attempt to hack into their IT systems to identify vulnerabilities and security holes. During the 2016 “Hack the Pentagon” event, more than 130 vulnerabilities were reported to the U.S. government.
In the United Kingdom, the National Cyber-Security Centre (NCSC) recently launched its Vulnerability Co-ordination Pilot to facilitate public reporting. The NCSC agency in The Netherlands and the Australian Cyber-Security Centre (ACSC) run similar programs.
Crowdsourcing cyber-security allows government organizations to leverage a much wider range of expertise than any one entity alone could hope to possess.
It’s hard to overstate the impact new and emerging technologies are having on public service agencies. They are enabling the development of innovative, data-fueled, connected and automated services that will deliver new levels of convenience and efficiency. At the same time, they require new skillsets and a different approach to workforce development and retention.
Tomorrow’s successful organizations will offer employees a more flexible, dynamic environment and the chance to work on projects that truly excite them. These collaborative, forward-looking organizations will have agility—and security—at their core.
Government agencies that don’t fit this description need to act fast to make themselves more attractive to top talent. My advice for agencies is to act now to secure the workforce of the future.
Ger Daly is senior managing director for Accenture Defense and Public Safety, with global responsibility for defense, policing, and border and identity business services. He leads a team of professionals who assist government and public service organizations that manage the cross-border movement of people, provide national and international security and manage criminal justice systems.
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