Checkups are fast, free and confidential
By Debbie Pennick, Assistant Director for SAO’s Center for Government Innovation
Reducing your risk of a cyber incident is now a bit easier, thanks to a free cyber checkup program offered by the Center for Government Innovation (https://sao.wa.gov/improving-government/center-government-innovation), a service of the Office of the Washington State Auditor. It’s a side of our agency you may not know, a place to provide resources and tools to help local governments innovate and improve, at no additional charge.
The Center’s cyber checkup program provides a fast, free and independent assessment of your government’s vulnerability to common threats, along with actionable steps you can take to improve your overall cyber health. The program is also confidential, meaning the results will only be shared between Center personnel and your team.
Checkups are designed to be completed within a short timeframe, typically less than one month. While they’re not an alternative to a more lengthy, detailed cybersecurity audit or your government’s ongoing cyber maintenance, the checkups provide a report identifying where your government is fully, partially or not yet implementing 20 important safeguards. This “cyber scorecard” is based on the Center for Internet Security’s Critical Security Controls Version 8, a well-respected set of prioritized measures for mitigating the most common cyberattacks.
Results include valuable recommendations
As of October 13, 2023, the Center (https://sao.wa.gov/improving-government/becybersmart) has completed 28 cyber checkups, with another three in progress. The city of Port Townsend was among the first governments to take part in the program, and one of its network administrators, David Olsen, appreciated the process.
In a recent article about the program published in Government Technology (https:/govtech.com/security/washington-auditors-office-offers-free-cyber-checkups-for-local-govt), Olsen said the final report provided “a guide to what my next options might be … you end up with an attractive package of recommendations. A lot of it is boilerplate, but it’s useful boilerplate, and there is room for specifics to the particular organization.”
Even after the checkup is completed, the Center’s cybersecurity specialist remains available to field questions and assist with implementing any recommendations.
Another advantage of the Center’s cyber checkup program, in Olsen’s view, was getting an independent, unbiased appraisal of his city’s cyber posture that he could present to executive leadership.
“In some ways, the key benefit for me was creating visibility higher up the management chain,” Olsen said to Government Technology. “It fairly, economically, and quickly [helped me develop] some talking points I could use with management to say, ‘Here we’re doing OK. Here we could be doing better.”
Bottom line? In today’s world where cybercriminals are targeting local governments more because of the amount of sensitive data they maintain, signing up for our free cyber checkup program seems like a no-brainer.
Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late – sign up today
If you or someone in your IT department (perhaps you’re both) would like to request a free cyber checkup or get more details, email Center@sao.wa.gov or call 564-999-0818.