Community engagement can also come with cyber risk

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Last year, the pandemic required local governments to quickly ramp up their digital presence and provide more online access to information and services. While the pandemic is thankfully receding, the expectations of what local governments can offer online has only increased. Unfortunately, many local governments adopted solutions out of necessity that didn’t always come with adequate data privacy protections. The movement towards ‘smart cities’ is complicated because increased access also brings increased risk. If nothing else, local governments need to understand that data privacy and protection has to be a fundamental part of any digital communications strategy.

While at first your digital communications strategy might not seem to be part of your security posture, the choices you make about how you share information and access can open you up to risk. Hackers are creatures of opportunity. Just like physical crime, cyber-attacks like ransomware and data theft have exploded over the past year because the rapid shift to a remote workforce, among other things, created more attack opportunities. Local governments are prime targets for attackers not only for the high value of resident data but also because there is often no choice but to pay ransomware demands. There are some cyber-attacks that simply can’t be prevented yet, especially if it comes via a trusted update like the recent SolarWinds attack. But, there are significant ways local governments can reduce their risk by adopting a security mindset. For example, WordPress is a popular method for local governments to host a ‘do it yourself’ website. While it’s initially easy to implement and use, WordPress is notorious for its security issues. Ultimately, it costs your IT and Security teams time and resources better spent elsewhere.

Local governments also need to understand that security and privacy are twin sides of the same coin. By making sure resident data stays private, local governments can go a long way towards confronting their security woes. Reducing the data you gather can increase your usability while also reducing your exposure to data breaches. If you don’t store the data in the first place you’re not liable for what happens to it if it’s stolen. In trying to gather as much data as possible to make informed decisions, local governments can sometimes overreach. But the truth is users don’t want to give up their private information and asking for too much of it will ultimately limit your community engagement. Like any other member of society, your residents are bombarded by requests for information from everything from store cashiers to their gas pumps. Requiring less data initially can greatly enhance your rate of adoption. Asking for too much will make a large percentage simply give up.

Local governments simply can’t ignore the threat data breaches pose to their bottom line. ITsimple can help you maximize your ability to reach your constituents digitally while not exposing yourself to data privacy issues. ITsimple removes risk from your content publication, eases content management, and lessens the load on your IT and security teams. It’s a complete community engagement and content management ecosystem that includes secure and ADA compliant modern websites, easy publication of content, and end user mobile applications that all work together to create not just a strategy but a solution. With Spotlight CMS, one person can simultaneously manage all content publication across your web site and social media channels like Facebook. And because it’s a cloud based zero code solution, they can do it with no IT support required or extra risk added.

SpotlightCMS pairs with free end user apps like It’sMyTown and CityGuards that put information and services in one location for residents and make it far easier for them to engage and find the information they need. The apps are freely available from Apple and Google app stores, have no privacy concerns or social media dependency because no registration is required and no personal information is gathered or stored, and help build a sense of community and support local engagement. It’sMyTown and CityGuards gives residents information access options and perfectly complements your web site by enabling notifications and the ability to save events with ease.

Any sized local government looking to upgrade their website, improve resident communications, and lessen their exposure to cyber risks should consider ITsimple community engagement solutions. When you’re ready to improve your digital communications, ITsimple can help. And when you’re ready to upgrade your website or entire communications strategy, ITsimple is available with a proven and secure solution for success in place.