Closing the expertise gaps in state and local security

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Chris Novak is Director of the Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center and a strategic cybersecurity adviser to multinational corporations and government agencies worldwide.

If there is one underlying challenge facing most state and local government IT departments, it’s “complexity.” And that complexity has become deeply rooted.

Chris Novak, Director, Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center, Verizon

Of course, the extraordinary circumstances most government agencies face this bring a host of other challenges: legacy systems, service outages, remote workers, staff shortages, ransomware attacks, budget cuts … the list goes on.

But in the daily push to meet the needs of citizens, internal agency customers and government partners, maintaining the increasingly complex inner workings of most agency’s technology ecosystems has become a Sisyphean struggle.

That’s one of the key reasons why state and local governments are shifting strategic gears and expanding their use of managed and professional IT services, especially for security.

It wasn’t that long ago that IT staffs at most organizations could focus on a few, well-established computing systems and applications. In-house staffers were familiar with how those systems were built, how they operated and how they had evolved.

That familiarity has since given way to a new era where the advent of cloud services, high-speed mobile and SD-WAN networks, APIs, containers and AI have created a dramatically more dynamic and complex operating environment. One that can be a challenge even the most seasoned IT teams.

The good news is, these new technologies are enabling agencies to do vastly more than they could just a few years ago. However, it’s also nearly impossible — financially and talent-wise — for individual technology departments to acquire and retain the expertise needed to manage and secure today’s government IT systems.

The shift to managed services

Fortunately, state and local agencies have more staffing options than previously. And increasing numbers of CIOs are recognizing the value of managed and professional IT services.

That’s borne out in the latest state CIO survey, released by NASCIO, Grant Thornton and CompTIA. Asked how state CIO organizations expected to deliver or obtain IT services over the next three years, fully 6 in 10 CIOs said they planned to expand their use of managed services.

Source: NASCIO

Turning to experienced managed and professional IT services organizations, especially to identify and remediate hidden vulnerabilities in agency networks, makes increasing strategic and economic sense. The right provider can bring multiple benefits to the table, including:

Skills on demand — Because managed and professional services providers work with a wide range of enterprise customers and forward-leaning technologies, they can offer a broader bench of experts who specialize in today’s skills on demand — when they’re needed and for as long as they’re needed.

Smarter use of talent — By retaining a managed services organization to concentrate on foundational technology and security operations — and professional services to tackle specialized projects — agencies can keep IT staff focused on critical demands.

Scalable support — As agencies adopt scalable infrastructure and software services platforms, they also need scalable support. Managed and professional services can help  agencies increase speed, flexibility and responsiveness, so they can better adjust to surges in public needs, such as we’ve seen during the pandemic.

Extended security – Perhaps most importantly, managed and professional services providers can help agencies secure their operations in multiple cloud and on-premise data environments. They can also give technology departments an added edge in utilizing the most appropriate security tools needed to monitor and protect government data moving through those environments.

Global and local perspective

As a global leader providing network backbone services worldwide, Verizon and its management and professional services teams offer added strategic advantages to government agencies.

Most notably, Verizon’s security teams constantly monitor and protect our networks from adversaries across the globe. This gives us  a unique understanding of the types of threats that can impact government agencies.

The breadth and depth of that experience is reflected in our annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report and our Verizon Insider Threat Report, which flag cyberthreats and trends that should be on every organization’s radar. However, we also know that understanding the cyberthreat landscape is not the same as dealing with a cyberattack.  And to do both requires a comprehensive approach.

Agencies increasingly need an experienced and diversified team of professionals to stay ahead of today’s cyberthreats. One that, when incidents do occur—as they inevitably will—can respond swiftly and effectively. Having an established partnership with an experienced managed and professional services provider can help ensure that you’ll stay up and running when your services are needed the most.

Verizon also has years of experience working with state and local governments. Our specialists understand the highly regulated nature of government operating environments and how to help agencies modernize and secure them.

We can also help agencies fast-track their digital transformation efforts by implementing many of the automated and repeatable business process we’ve mastered in evolving our own network, as well as in  supporting modernization efforts for a wide variety of agencies and industries.

Find out more on how Verizon Professional and Managed Services can provide a full spectrum of digital and security solutions for your organization.

This article was produced by Scoop News Group for, and sponsored by, Verizon.

The chart in this article has been updated to reflect more recent figures.

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Chris Novak, Closing the Security Expertise Gap, Cybersecurity, executive perspective, IT skills, Sponsored Content, Verizon, Verizon 2020, workforce
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