Citizens, Government Share Cyber-Security Concerns
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The majority of government executives believe new security services can positively change citizens' attitudes toward government, building confidence and trust.
Create a Security-First Culture
Two-thirds of citizens surveyed said they would feel more confident if government agencies were to implement stronger data privacy and security policies. To that end, public sector organizations must take a holistic approach to security, working with their suppliers and partners to improve systems and procedures across the entire organization.
As new technologies proliferate and combine rapidly into linked, interdependent chains, security is often limited to the device and user. In order to effectively protect the entire data chain, security must be built into the software application layer, as well as into the devices, platforms and networks.
Build Citizen Confidence and Support for Security Measures
Despite citizen concerns, improved cyber-security and data protection measures can positively impact citizen attitudes toward government. In fact, 63 percent of citizens said heightened data security measures would increase their confidence (54 percent) and trust (57 percent) in government agencies. Millennials expressed the most confidence of all the age groups in government’s ability to protect their data.
It is important that government continues to build on this trust, especially as agencies explore more robust methods of delivering digital public services, built around new security services and increased security requirements.
Balance Security Requirements With Citizen Convenience Needs
When it comes to protecting data, citizens’ trust in government is on par with commercial organizations. Therefore, government leaders should not shy away from introducing additional security measures for citizen services, since many private sector service providers have implemented similar requirements.
Accenture’s research found that 66 percent of citizens would be willing to sacrifice convenience for increased data security. They also expressed support for improved security measures, such as additional login questions and increased use of emerging technologies such as biometrics to help verify identity and enhance secure access to data.
Accept the Challenge
Unfortunately, as cyber-attacks continue to increase in frequency and ferocity, data held by organizations across the public and private sectors will remain at risk. No government agency is immune from these threats, and no agency can eradicate them fully.
However, it is critical that state and local governments advance their cyber-security agenda and better demonstrate to citizens that the safety and security of their personal data is a top priority. When done properly, strengthening efforts by government to address digital threats will also help build citizen confidence and trust in public institutions.
Lalit Ahluwalia and Peter Hutchinson lead Accenture’s work with state and local government clients in North America