When faced with a security incident, your organization’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and major harm to intellectual or physical property, or worse, human lives.
In the case of government organizations where so much is at stake, from classified information to sensitive technologies, a well-planned and tightly-executed security response is vital. With that in mind, here is how to make sure your security strategy is up to the challenge, from detecting the incident to investigating it, containing it, and mounting an effective recovery.
Best Practices for Strengthening Security in Government Organizations
The following are overall best practices for an effective security strategy, no matter your organization’s mission:
- Establish an Incident Response Team. This team should include skilled professionals from different departments, including IT, legal, communications, and management. Putting their combined skills and insights together, they can create an appropriate incident response plan, as detailed below, and ensure it can be well-executed in case of security breaches.
- Create an Incident Response Plan. Develop a comprehensive security incident response plan appropriate to your organization. It should outline the specific steps to be taken in any number of security situations, as well as predefined roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and escalation procedures.
- Train Staff in Effective Security Response. Regular training and drills should reinforce your response procedures and empower everyone to act effectively in real-world scenarios, which can be highly-charged and unpredictable. A team that has the training and confidence to respond according to plan can more reliably and successfully detect and neutralize security incidents.
- Implement Multiple Security Systems and Methods. Because of the complexity of the threat landscape, it is prudent to invest in multiple layers of security, from technology-based solutions to human assets. For example, access control systems like keycards, biometric readers, and PIN codes can be integrated with video surveillance, sensor-based intrusion detection systems, alarms, motion detectors, and on-site security personnel for robust and resilient security preparedness. Moreover, these solutions can become exponentially more powerful when integrated and working as one. Our Alarm Center software can achieve this by pulling multiple signals into one streamlined dashboard.
- Regularly Review Potential Threats and Vulnerabilities. Perform periodic vulnerability assessments to identify any weaknesses in your threat detection systems or processes. Security is a dynamic and evolving landscape, and adversaries are often endlessly creative. Regularly ask yourself whether your current plans and procedures still cover all possible security threats, especially as new technologies, new approaches, and new risks emerge.
- Promote a Culture of Security. Foster a sense of awareness and responsibility among employees, encouraging them to flag suspicious activity and stay alert to potential threats. These simple measures can minimize the risk of a serious security incident caused by human error or negligence.
Best Practices for Detecting and Responding to a Security Incident
Beyond the big-picture steps above, the specific actions below can ensure effective detection, response, and recovery in any security scenario. For example, you should:
- Activate Automatic Response Procedures. You should have a well-defined response plan for any number of potential scenarios, so when something happens in a high-stakes, high-pressure situation, your team automatically knows the exact sequence of steps to follow. Established emergency response procedures, triggered automatically, can ensure the safety of individuals and minimize the impact of the incident. This may involve evacuating affected areas, implementing lockdown protocols, or providing medical assistance as needed. Alarm monitoring software, like Alarm Center by SIS, can help automate this process so there’s never a question of what should happen next.
- Secure the Scene and Collaborate with Law Enforcement. As soon as possible, secure the immediate area to prevent further damage or contamination. Establish physical barriers, limit access to authorized personnel only, and coordinate with law enforcement if necessary. Their guidance and expertise can help you get to the bottom of security incidents and be especially helpful in incidents that could have legal implications.
- Assess the Damage and Restore Operations. Assess any property damage, infrastructure disruption, or compromised physical security measures. Document the extent of the damage and prioritize recovery efforts accordingly. In the case of a digital attack, restore data from backups or other secure sources to recover lost or compromised information. Your priority should be restoring critical services and systems to minimize further disruption to vital operational needs.
- Use Data to Your Advantage. Analyze video footage, control logs, and other relevant data to identify potential suspects or unusual activities leading up to and during the incident. Detailed data and documentation can also prove invaluable in post-incident analysis, legal proceedings, and insurance claims, if necessary. This is another scenario where Alarm Center by SIS can help, by keeping all essential data in one easily accessible place.
- Communicate with Stakeholders. Your government organization likely answers to many stakeholders, from internal partners and regulatory agencies to taxpayers themselves. It’s important to keep everyone appropriately informed about any security incidents and recovery efforts that might impact them. Clear and timely communication about the incident, the recovery progress, and follow-up actions are an important part of an effective response.
- Learn From the Incident. Once you have responded to and neutralized the threat, it’s important to conduct a thorough review to identify any gaps in security or unforeseen weaknesses in your systems. Using these insights, implement corrective measures, update your security protocols, develop alternative strategies for maintaining critical operations in the future, and learn how to prevent similar breaches next time.
Staying ahead of developing security threats is especially important in governmental organizations, where any breach can cause serious disruptions to civil services, compromise sensitive information, and potentially lead to monumental losses of technology, property, and even human lives.
The best practices above should be the foundation of your security response protocols, but they are by no means exhaustive. Every agency and entity will have its own particular challenges and needs, and your task will be to develop a thoughtful set of strategies for combating any eventuality.
However, a good place to begin fortifying your efforts is with quality security software. We recommend Alarm Center as an ideal solution for bringing together multiple security systems, giving you a clear overview of potential threats from one dashboard, and empowering your security teams to mount an effective, automated response to any number of threats. Please contact us today to see how Alarm Center has helped hundreds of government agencies fortify their defenses–and how it can help yours.