Public sector bodies need to walk the walk with secure communications
Public Sector Data Leak Prevention Guide
Protecting sensitive information and having the ability to communicate securely have become increasingly important since people started working from home in droves. Yet effective communication security remains a key challenge for many public sector institutions, from the NHS and local councils to the various branches of law enforcement and other government agencies.
Most of these organisations need to be able to share sensitive information digitally, as it enables everyone to work more efficiently. Whether it’s about sending communications to local residents, or to a colleague at another institution, data needs to be properly protected at all times.
People need to be able to communicate securely from any location, and preferably from any device. As people gradually return to the office when the pandemic eases, it’s expected that many will continue to work remotely, at least some of the time. This is causing many IT departments to rethink their security solutions for communicating safely. Not as a quick fix, but as a sustainable solution that can also enable future changes in the organisation.
In Gartner’s September 2020 Market Guide for Email Security, analysts explained that while traditionally the focus has been on protecting against outside threats, the new key challenge for organisations is on email data protection.
Research conducted by Opinion Matters of more than 200 public sector institutions in the UK showed that many organisations continue to rely heavily on ‘regular’ email to exchange sensitive information, and this is completely unsafe for this purpose and puts sensitive data at increased risk. Some are even using chat tools that are also not safe.
While many organisations are still using methods that are not fully secure, at the same time the volume of emails has increased considerably since the pandemic began, in some cases by as much as 70%. These extra emails, coupled with remote working, drastically increases the likelihood
that data leaks will occur and puts sensitive information at risk. In many cases, it’s really not a matter of whether a data leak will occur, but how often. That’s why over 82% of public sector institutions reported at least one data leak in the last year, with many experiencing much more.
It’s a common misconception that phishing and hacking are the main causes of data leaks. The reality is that most derive inadvertently from people within your organisation, making simple mistakes, as opposed to a malicious attack by an external third party such as a hacker. In fact, in 2019, the latest annual data available, 95% of data leaks stemmed from human error, a truly astonishing figure.