The public sector is facing a rapid rise in malicious threats. For years, the private sector has been forced to contend with the growing scope, scale, and complexity of cybercrime. Now, the public sector organizations — many of which are particularly vulnerable due to outdated and legacy systems — face a similar problem as threat actors look to exploit the treasure trove of personally identifiable information they hold.
The government industry is under attack
According to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, the public sector had the second most attacks after the entertainment industry. However, the public sector may well have been the number one targeted sector last year; Verizon’s report treats education and healthcare as different sectors, many of which are government operators.
These two sectors, in particular, have faced a barrage of attacks in recent months. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the U.S., was hit by a devastating ransomware attack that saw hackers release 500GB of sensitive information belonging to teachers and students. The hacking group responsible — Vice Society — has attacked at least eight other U.S. school districts, colleges, and universities so far in 2022.
A number of hospitals and healthcare providers have faced a similar onslaught in 2022. According to Emsisoft, at least 15 U.S. health systems operating 61 hospitals across the country have been impacted by ransomware this year. In recent months, threat actors have also targeted banks, energy suppliers, and even entire municipalities.
Everyone’s safety: A shared responsibility
Amidst these increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks and a constantly shifting threat landscape, and with public and private sectors facing similar threats, it’s only logical they work more closely together to defend the nation’s strategic intent and business interests.
Just as cybercriminals share lessons, tactics, techniques, and capabilities, cybersecurity professionals across public and private sectors need to collaborate and learn from each other to combat today’s ever-growing threats.
This is why a public-private partnership (PPP) approach — defined as an organized relationship between public and private organizations in which the parties set common objectives — is needed in order to ensure effective and timely information and intelligence sharing.
As cyberwarfare and attacks against infrastructure continue to increase in volume and sophistication, government organizations had to develop security expertise and powerful countermeasures. On the other hand, as threat actors actively seek softer targets in the private sector, businesses and organizations are having to become more proactive in their approach and actively “hunting” for anomalies that could indicate the presence of an adversary in the environment.
As stated by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): “Public-private partnerships are the foundation for effective critical infrastructure security and resilience strategies, and timely, trusted information sharing among stakeholders is essential to the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.”
Collaboration for cybersecurity and peace
This knowledge-sharing has already proven successful in disrupting criminal activity. For example, at the end of 2021, the Department of Justice announced the arrest of two affiliates of the notorious ransomware gang REvil, which is believed to have carried out the attacks against JBS Foods and Kaseya. The DoJ also revealed that it had seized $6.1 million worth of ransom payments.
This milestone could not have been a success without the assistance of private companies, and Bitdefender was one of the companies that aided the international law enforcement effort. Bitdefender’s DRACO Team provided cybersecurity consulting and guidance especially in areas of cryptography, forensics, and investigations that helped law enforcement officials minimize the impact of successful ransomware attacks and eventually led to the arrest of two of the gang’s most prominent members.
Public-sector partnerships like these are also proving critical in Ukraine. Russian cyber-attacks against Ukraine have persisted ever since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, intensifying just before the February 2022 invasion. Over this period, Ukraine's public, energy, media, financial, and non-profit sectors have suffered the most.
Sharing the same mission and values of integrity, freedom and resilience, Bitdefender has formed a partnership with Romania's National Cyber Security Directorate (DNSC) to provide cybersecurity expertise and threat intelligence at no charge to support the people of Ukraine and its allies.
Bitdefender is also providing cybersecurity technology free of charge for one year to any company or public entity from a NATO or European Union country that seeks to enhance their cybersecurity posture by replacing cybersecurity solutions that present trust concerns from a technical or geopolitical perspective.
Public-private partnerships are important beyond just responding to the threat of the day. They can also help promote the institutional framework that we collectively use to fight this ever-growing threat and to ultimately win the war against cybercrime.
Learn more about Bitdefender Advanced Threat Intelligence, and how it can help your private — or public — organization defend against the growing threats.