Reliable unified communications can improve government cybersecurity

Government communications must be reliable to prevent shadow IT.

For the most part, government agencies at the federal, state and local level are run very similarly to most other organizations. The primary difference is that cybersecurity – in many cases – becomes a matter of national security, affecting far more people than just internal stakeholders.

When it comes to unified communications, improved collaboration, more possibilities for remote productivity and smoother communication capabilities are all just as beneficial to government organizations as they are to businesses in the private sector. Nevertheless, these portals must be as secure as they are efficient.

A highly targeted sector

Globally, government organizations were highly targeted in 2015. According to Control Risk's Riskmap Report 2016, a little over one-third of cyberattacks targeted government in 2015. As was made evident by the notorious Office of Personnel Management Breach that affected approximately 21.5 million people, even the highest-level government agencies are vulnerable to hackers. 

Unfortunately, many of the biggest threats to cybersecurity are not the result of hackers, but rather, negligence among employees when it comes to communication best practices. In fact, approximately 85 percent of government workers admitted to risky IT behavior on smartphones and other mobile devices, according to TechNewsWorld. Avoidance of smart communication practices combined with the ever-increasing volume, strength and sophistication of cyberattackers creates a less-than-ideal cybersecurity situation in government circles.

Cybersecurity is about more than having the best firewalls; it's also about safe, efficient communication.Cybersecurity is about more than having the best firewalls; it's also about safe, efficient communication.

Assessing government unified communication

That said, the benefits of unified communication are simply too undeniable for government organizations to turn their backs on. There are a variety of ways agencies can more easily share information with one another, and from multiple locations and on more than just traditional computing devices. For example, by installing a VoIP softphone onto a smartphone, government workers can have access to all of their contacts when working remotely. Alternatively, the same softphone technology can be configured for a laptop, which is useful for governmental departments in which IT leaders have determined that the use of smartphone and tablets is simply too much of a security hazard. 

"Government organizations must rely on unified communications."

Another aspect of collaboration in government worth considering is cloud unified communications. As a whole, government cloud computing has been assessed with contention. While the collaboration benefit and remote-access capabilities are undeniable, many federal leaders remain wary of cybersecurity in the cloud, and this has slowed the progress of government cloud migration – including cloud communication deployments. It could be quite some time before the majority of federal agencies in particular feel entirely comfortable communicating solely in the cloud.

Regardless, government organizations must rely on unified communications now and in the future. This includes protecting all data within an organization, including VoIP data. Voice encryption, firewalls and anti-virus solutions are some of the methods that IT leaders may employ. While they are all useful, one of the best ways to improve the security of unified communications in government organizations is by ensuring a strong user experience. 

How reliable VoIP can enhance cybersecurity

The last thing government IT leaders want is for workers to make calls or leverage a Web-based, consumer audio conferencing solution because the organization's VoIP solution is unreliable. One of the big sources of shadow IT is a poor user experience delivered by business and communication applications that are needed to complete a task. As a result, employees might turn to unauthorized communication portals that can put an organization at risk. 

Thus, government organizations should make finding a top-notch, reliable VoIP solution a priority, both from a business productivity perspective, and from a cybersecurity angle. Military-grade VoIP solutions designed specifically for use in government and defense exist, and when imbued with features such as audio conferencing, mobile VoIP and integration with other unified communication portals, employees may be more likely to feel like they have everything they need to maximize productivity. 

Government organizations certainly have their hands full trying to defend valuable digital assets. With a strong VoIP solution, communication and collaboration can be secure, reliable and efficient.