6 Ways State and Local Governments Can Strengthen SaaS Data Protections

OCTOBER 31ST, 2023

The summary at the end of the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report public sector snapshot is telling: The public sector “continues to make top scores in espionage-motivated breaches.” 

The report investigated 16,312 security incidents—including 5,199 confirmed breaches—to federal, state, and local government and public safety agencies. It found that 74 percent of all breaches involved the human element, and83 percent involved external actors. Ransomware is still one of the leading types of breaches at 24 percent. 

Ensuring citizen data privacy and protection is mandated by regulations ranging from HIPAA to the CCPA, so breaches are an immense problem for state and local government and education (SLED) IT professionals. What’s worse is that, in an independent global study commissioned by Arcserve, 36 percent of government IT departments don’t have a well-documented disaster recovery plan. 

Just 38 percent of government IT departments have a comprehensive business continuity plan that includes recovery, interim solutions, and communication. And only 34 percent are confident in their IT team’s ability to recover data in the event of a ransomware attack. 

SaaS Is Central to SLED IT Modernization

Gartner reports that 57 percent of government CIOs plan to increase funding for application modernization in 2023. In an August 2023 trends post, MarketEdge says that, for government agencies, software as a service (SaaS) continues to gain momentum over capital expenditures for software purchases.

There are many good reasons governments are turning to SaaS, including the ability to deliver services more efficiently, transparently, and cost-effectively. Staff time can be focused on more important matters while chatbots handle basic citizen inquiries. Constituents can be sent automated alerts and notifications regarding government processes and communications. And publicly searchable databases make accessing information easy for citizens.

But with so much data now being generated in SLED IT environments, it’s time for IT pros and responsible authorities to do more to protect SaaS data with better government IT solutions

Here are six ways you can do so:

1. Control Access to Data

Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple verification forms before allowing data access. Role-based access controls (RBAC) limit users so they can only access the data they need to do their jobs and nothing more. Physical access to datacenters (or data closets) should also be tightly controlled.

2. Select Secure SaaS Providers

Consider robust security measures, such as SOC 2 or ISO 27001, when choosing SaaS providers. Look for a strong track record in data protection and assess the provider’s cloud security solutions, data encryption practices, and access controls. Your data should be encrypted in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access.

3. Ensure Your Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan Is Up to Date

Preparation is the best way to minimize the damage from a breach or any other data disaster. Create a well-defined disaster recovery plan. This post features a simple step-by-step guide to creating an effective plan. Your plan must include how you will respond to incidents, including clear procedures for notifying affected parties and relevant authorities. You should also conduct regular drills that test the effectiveness of your plan.  

4. Conduct Regular Security Audits and Pen Tests

If you find vulnerabilities before hackers can, you’ve leaped forward in data protection. Regular security audits and penetration (pen) testing can identify where vulnerabilities lie—including in your SaaS infrastructure—so you can take the steps required to eliminate them. 

5. Patch and Update Regularly

All too often, patches and updates aren’t implemented as quickly as they should. That leaves gaps that hackers love to exploit. Establish policies that require immediate action for patches and updates

6. Add a SaaS Backup Solution

Under the shared responsibility model, you are responsible for protecting and recovering your data, not your cloud vendor. By adding Arcserve SaaS backup, you can count on complete protection for data stored in Microsoft 365, Microsoft 365 Azure AD, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, and Google Workspace

Easy to set up, data protection starts in minutes. A simple, single pane of glass management console offers multi-tenant capabilities and RBAC. And your data is encrypted in transit and at rest. You can also count on data sovereignty, with four copies of your backups stored in two different data centers within the same region.

Arcserve SaaS Backup also supports immutable storage, using a blockchain-based algorithm to ensure ransomware resilience for your backups. Accidental deletions are also prevented with 30-day delete retention. And automated application updates ensure your software is always current—without stopping active jobs.

Get Expert SaaS Support

Arcserve technology partners are here to help state and local governments and public agencies meet today’s—and tomorrow’s—data protection demands.

Find an Arcserve technology partner.

To learn more about Arcserve SaaS Backup, request a demo or check out our 30-day free trial offer.