Digitization has become a permanent fixture of modern life, expanding into almost all facets of industries and organizations. Now, governments find themselves needing to follow suit. Citizens expect their governments to adopt and implement technologies consistent with those they have become accustomed to when dealing with their bank or while grocery shopping online.
Digitization provides governments with some undeniable opportunities. By digitizing their framework, governments can become considerably more responsive and efficient when providing service to citizens. Citizens too can be empowered by digital services that broaden their engagement with different branches of government.
However, it is impossible to ignore the often-dangerous realities brought upon by an ever-increasing digitized world.
Millions of potential cyber security threats per second render digitized IT systems vulnerable to serious attacks. Data breach and online payment fraud have become almost commonplace phenomena. And when it comes to governments, one successful infiltration into a small, relatively insignificant system could lead to complete shut down and send the entire government into a tailspin.
A leak of financial information may arguably be the worst-case scenario, but it is far from the only threat digitization poses to governments. Often privy to much of their citizen’s private information, governments are tasked with ensuring it remain absolutely safe. Whom citizens choose to associate with; their biometric data; their sexual preferences and religious affiliation are all data that cannot be compromised. Governments have no room for error in this matter, if they are to secure their citizens’ trust.
So, what can be done? What measures can governments take to combat this challenging reality?
First and foremost, governments must embrace operational changes. The use of protective measures to cope with rapidly evolving technology usually involves no small amount of operational and organizational restructuring, coupled with the need to adjust to international privacy standard reforms.
If governments strive to collaborate with private sectors by sharing knowledge, they can establish more efficient strategy and methods to successfully tackle the issue.
Above all else, governments must improve cyber protection. Determining the importance of each digital asset and setting specific targets for protecting them is paramount. Embracing cyber awareness across all levels of governments, similar to employee advocacy promoted in the private sector, has also proven successful in yielding significant results.
Additionally, leading cyber and privacy regulations, may encourage cooperation between institutes, determine responsibilities for protecting sensitive data, and create clear and accessible instructions for everyone to follow.
Citizens’ level of trust in those with access to their private information needs to be absolute. They need to believe that governments adopting digitization, do so in a way that does not compromise them, their finances, or any of their rights to privacy, in any way. It is the governments’ job to prove that to them.