The key role that trust and security play within government agencies

It’s safe to say that hybrid working is the new normal for most governments. But supporting a distributed workforce that operates in both desktop and remote environments creates an avenue for cybercriminals to attack government networks and infrastructure. At this point, it’s not a question of if, but when your government will fall victim to a cyberattack. That said, combating cyberattacks has been a well-recognized priority by governments around the world, especially since the onset of the pandemic.

As technologies evolve, people expect more from their governments, including secure, innovative and easily accessible services. This is an area where Microsoft has strong expertise and can therefore provide support by building trust with secure services while ensuring the integrity of government data and information shared by citizens and residents. Read on for learn how to accelerate digital transformation and build trust through empowered people, improved governments and empowered societies.

Empowering People and Empowering Societies

People are essential to the growth of society. When they are able to access a wide variety of government services in a secure manner, society progresses and businesses prosper. Indeed, digital identity is the cornerstone of everything people do in today’s world. Unlike physical identification, such as driver’s licenses or passports, digital IDs can be authenticated using technologies such as biometrics, passwords, PINs, and more. Therefore, digital identity can be the foundation for reliable and secure services, assuring people that their privacy is protected while enabling governments to provide better experiences for voters.

This is clearly demonstrated by the Flemish government of Belgium, where city officials have recognized the need for technology that puts users in control of their data while enabling trusted interactions that help people start new businesses and carry out their daily operations. In response, the government has partnered with Microsoft to ensure reliable data verification processes while protecting user privacy. “With this new approach, citizens can easily find out what information is shared with whom,” explains Raf Buyle, digital architect for the Flemish government Belgium. “We are particularly pleased to see that such easy-to-use interaction still ensures a high level of verification between regulatory agencies.”

Improving governments

One of the many roles of government institutions around the world is to deliver basic public services to their citizens in a secure manner. In the current environment, especially given the global pandemic, most governments have approached this need through a digital transformation lens that allows them to support voters in a safe and efficient manner.

A good example of this is found in New Zealand. There, the Department of Home Affairs (DIA) created a centralized online platform that enabled its 4.9 million residents to assert their legal identity and easily access desired services. Called RealMe, this digital service uses a single username and password to access 163 government services across 56 public agencies while protecting user identities and minimizing downtime. Tim Waldron, Business and Market Development Manager for RealMe Services, DIA New Zealand, says, “We needed to create authentication and identity verification services that could be used by both our private and public sectors and be easily expanded as needed”. DIA has chosen to partner with UNIFY Solutions to map its entire RealMe interface to Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory B2C, launching the new cloud-based system in July 2021.

Using this technology, DIA migrated millions of user authentications in 48 hours, while reducing total cost of ownership and providing a more flexible and feature-rich experience. “Microsoft has released features and functional enhancements to help us out,” said Peter Tiernan, director of customer success at UNIFY Solutions. “Our three teams were the three legs of the stool. In addition to building trust with your stakeholders, this type of partnership and collaboration is critical to success. »

Yet another powerful example where Microsoft stepped in to support public data security is the case of the government of Nunavut, Canada’s largest territory. Home to citizens and residents of 25 communities and three different time zones, Nunavut suffered a ransomware attack in late 2019 that shut down 5,500 computer systems.

By partnering closely with Microsoft, the Government of Nunavut not only recovered from the attack in six weeks, but also went through a digital transformation that improved digital security in the 25 communities it serves. Microsoft solutions, such as Microsoft Sentinel, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Applications, and Azure Active Directory, have made it easier for Government of Nunavut security teams to protect IT systems comprised of 800 servers across their 2 million square kilometer territory . “With the new Microsoft security tools, we have end-to-end visibility and the data we need to make the best decisions at the right time. It’s been transformative,” says Martin Joy, Director of Information and Communications Technology for the Government of Nunavut.

Building trust and security within government agencies

As the concrete examples above demonstrate, the provision of secure government services is imperative for the digital health and safety of the societies in which we live. Sign up today to learn more about cybersecurity and how to protect your agencies from common threats.

You are also invited to listen to our recent on-demand webinar where reliable and secure government practices in various applicable segments, including public safety and justice, public finance, public health and social services, and critical infrastructure, are discussed in detail.

Keep up to date with Microsoft’s overall approach to government by visiting our Microsoft for Government website.

Ashley C. Reynolds