Whether big government or small, assuring the security of files in the public sector is of utmost importance for security, as well as assuring any information from citizens is protected. According to 2021 US Census data, there are 90,000 government entities. Protecting the data these agencies handle is admittedly a big lift.
Not only are government agencies, military departments, or contractors working with those government entities subject to substantial regulations and security policies, but these operations are also a target of ever-increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threat actors as they strive to conduct their myriad government functions each day. And often government data must be sent from remote locations, or even ship-to-shore, or in other situations with poor connections.
The data entrusted to the government, or exchanged within government departments or agencies, whether that is the information provided to secure a passport, voter registrations, or military personnel records, can reach a new level of security with a robust managed file transfer (MFT) solution, which offers advantages such as security via multiple file transfer protocols, administrative control, ease-of-use, automation, and flexibility.
What File Sharing Challenges Do Government Organizations Face?
Compliance. At the federal level, agencies are required to meet stringent compliance requirements around how they handle files they share, including regulations such as NIST, FISMA, and PCI DSS. These are all aimed at lowering the risk to data exchanged. FISMA, or the Federal Information Security Management Act, focuses on security risks to federal data specifically.
Per FISMA requirements, all agencies must implement a written, detailed plan to ensure that the systems and data they contain are kept secure. These requirements not only apply to all agencies within the U.S. federal government, but also to some state agencies, as well as any private sector organizations that work in contractual relationships with the government.
Data breaches. By the very nature of the sensitive and often personal information government agencies handle, a data breach can result in very expensive remediation – both in terms of cost but as well as in reputation damage.
According to an IBM report on the cost of data breaches, the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, which is a 15% increase over three years. Breaking these costs down to the public sector, each incident costs $2.07 million on average. Every level of government is vulnerable.
Ransomware Increasing as a Risk
One cyberthreat, ransomware, is increasing, and the FBI released a notification about this risk, stating “Ransomware attacks against local government entities and the subsequent impacts are especially significant due to the public’s dependency on critical utilities, emergency services, educational facilities and other services overseen by local governments, making them attractive targets for cyber criminals.”
A Zero-Trust Approach Can Help Lessen Risks
“While the risks to government data are very real, there are proactive measures that agencies in the public sector, and the contractors they work with, can put into place to help reduce those risks,” said Chris Bailey, Senior Product Manager, SFT, Fortra.
“One thing we recommend to public as well as to private sector organizations is to approach the transfer of sensitive files with a zero-trust strategy. Meaning, elevating the now dated, ‘trust, then verify’ approach to a ‘never trust, always verify’ approach,” added Bailey.
Bailey also notes that today’s cybersecurity environment often requires organizations to put into place multiple solutions to meet security or compliance goals. By working in the zero-trust frame of security, layered or bundled solutions such as Zero Trust File Transfer can boost the protection of sensitive data.
With a bundled solution from Fortra, files transferred via managed file transfer (MFT) get added protection from secure gateways, encryption, and secure collaboration to ensure that once they land at their destination, only authorized recipients can open them and that protection remains intact, no matter where those files travel.
How MFT Can Help Secure Government Files
Robust MFT solutions, such as Fortra’s GoAnywhere MFT and the company’s accelerated file transfer solution, FileCatalyst, are secure, automated and user-friendly options to share information authorized to be exchanged by government entities and their trading partners at all levels of government. The solutions:
- Encrypt data using FIPS 140-2 compliant AES, Triple DES and TLS algorithms
- Require authentication for all users so only intended parties can access data
- Help meet compliance around file movements with audit trails and reports
- Optimize bandwidth to ensure reliable transfers, even from remote locations, even ship-to-shore, or from locations with unreliable links
- Automate and manage file transfers with a user-friendly, browser-based dashboard
- Centralize and file transfer processes to control file access and add efficiency
- Safeguard inbound ports of internal networks
- Track and monitor file deliveries to ensure sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands
- Accelerate transfer speeds for quick, easy collaboration
Considerations for Government Purchasing Departments for File Transfer Solutions
When evaluating MFT options, consider those that meet the requirements for National Security System (NSS) Procurement. GoAnywhere MFT’s Validation Report and Security target are posted on the NIAP Product Compliant List, assuring buying authorities that the solution has met the rigorous security standards required for federal government buyers and other security-forward organizations.
“Buyers should also be looking at solutions that boost security via multi-factor authentication (MFA) via TOTPs (Time-based, One-Time Passwords), as well as those solutions that apply a WAF (Web Application Firewall) to the application layer of web-based applications used by government entities. Government agencies are particularly vulnerable to malicious threats when they use web applications to collect personal information,” said Bailey. "Ensuring your MFT solution incorporates one is just another layer of security you can add around your sensitive data.”
Transfer Government Files More Securely with GoAnywhere MFT
Learn more about the security and efficiency advantages GoAnywhere MFT and FileCatalyst offer government and public sector organizations. And see secure file transfer for your sensitive data in action with a demo by one of our product experts.