Strengthening the Shield: Celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month in South Carolina’s County Governments
Contributed by Thomas Scott for the Fall 2023 County Focus magazine
In our increasingly interconnected world, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the need for robust defenses against cyber threats becomes more critical with each passing day. This October, we join the nation in celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a time to not only reflect on the challenges we face but also to highlight the innovative solutions and collaborative efforts that protect our country from cyberattacks.
The Cyber threat landscape
Before delving into the proactive measures being taken across South Carolina, it's essential to understand the nature of the cyber threat landscape. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with attacks ranging from ransomware to phishing attempts. As our counties become more digitally reliant, our assets, services, and data become attractive targets for malicious actors.
The power of awareness
One of the primary goals of Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to educate and empower individuals and organizations to be proactive in safeguarding their digital presence. At the South Carolina Cybersecurity Association – CyberSC, we’ve embraced this mission wholeheartedly. Throughout October, we will be hosting a series of workshops, seminars, and webinars tailored to both government employees and the public with notice going out via our events website at http://www.cybersc.us. These events will cover a wide range of topics, from recognizing common phishing tactics to securing personal devices and data. We believe that an informed and vigilant community is the first line of defense against cyber threats.
Collaboration for resilience
In the Palmetto state, cybersecurity is a collective effort that extends beyond the public sector. Collectively, we have fostered strong partnerships with local businesses, educational institutions, and community organizations. These collaborations have led to the development of a robust cybersecurity ecosystem, where information sharing, and best practices exchange are the norm.
One notable example of such collaboration is the State Law Enforcement Division’s South Carolina Critical Infrastructure and Cybersecurity team, a cross-sector initiative between state government, local government, law enforcement agencies, and private-sector cybersecurity experts. Together, they work to identify emerging threats and devise strategies to mitigate them effectively.
Investing in technology
While human awareness and collaboration are vital, technology plays a pivotal role in our cybersecurity strategy. County governments must continue to explore collaborative ways of working along with peers to collectively invest in cutting-edge cybersecurity tools and infrastructure to safeguard our digital assets.
Some key Initiatives your County should be working towards completion:
- Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): The implementation of MFA across county systems adds an extra layer of security, ensuring that only authorized users gain access to sensitive data.
- Incident response plans: Preparing for the worst is the driver in developing comprehensive incident response plans to minimize damage and downtime in the event of a cyberattack.
- Regular security audits: Routinely assess and audit to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses, allowing your county to proactively address potential threats.
- Employee training: All county employees MUST undergo mandatory cybersecurity training to stay informed about the latest threats and best practices.
We invite all county employees to join us in this critical mission, ensuring that our county governments remain a safe and secure digital space for all. Together, we can continue to strengthen the shield that protects our community from cyber threats.
- Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency | https://www.cisa.gov/cybersecurity-awareness-month
- South Carolina Cyber Association | https://cybersc.us/
- SCAC Cybersecurity resources | https://www.sccounties.org/cybersecurity
Thomas Scott is the executive director of CyberSC.