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The key role that trust and security plays within government agencies

It’s safe to say that hybrid work is the new normal for most governments. But supporting a distributed workforce that operates both in office environments and remotely creates an avenue for cybercriminals to attack government networks and infrastructure. At this point, it’s not a matter of if, but when your government will be a victim of a cyber-attack. That said, combatting cyber-attacks is a priority that is well recognized by governments worldwide—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 therefore can support by building trust with secure services while ensuring the integrity of government data and the information shared by citizens and residents alike. Read further to discover how to accelerate digital transformation and build trust through empowered people, enhanced governments, and enabled societies.

Empowering people and enabling societies

People are vital to the growth of society. When they are enabled to access a wide variety of government services in a secure manner, society moves forward and businesses flourish. This is because digital identity forms the cornerstone of everything that people do in today’s world. Unlike physical identification, such as driver’s licenses or passports, digital IDs can be authenticated through technologies such as biometrics, passwords, PIN numbers, and so much more. As a result, digital identity can be the foundation of trusted and secure services, assuring people that their privacy is protected while enabling governments to deliver better experiences to constituents.

This is clearly demonstrated by the Flanders Government of Belgium where city officials recognized the need for technology that provides users with control over their data while allowing trusted interactions that help people start new businesses and conduct daily operations. In response, the government partnered with Microsoft to ensure trusted data-verification processes while protecting user privacy. “With this new approach, citizens can easily keep track of what information is shared with whom,” says Raf Buyle, digital architect for the Flanders Government Belgium. “We are especially excited to see that such an easy-to-use interaction still ensures a high level of verification across regulatory agencies.”

Enhancing governments

One of the many roles for government institutions around the world is to provide basic public services to their citizens in a secure manner. In today’s environment, especially given the global pandemic, most governments have approached this need through a digital transformation lens that enables them to support constituents securely and efficiently.

A great example of this is found in New Zealand. There, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) created a centralized online platform that empowered its 4.9 million residents to affirm their legal identities and easily access desired services. Called RealMe, this digital service leverages 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, New Zealand DIA, says, “we needed to create authentication and identity verification services that could be used by both our private and public sector agencies and be easily scaled up as needed.” DIA chose 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.

By using this technology, DIA migrated millions of user authentications in 48 hours, all while reducing the total cost of ownership and delivering a more flexible, feature-rich experience. “Microsoft issued features and functional enhancements to help us,” says Peter Tiernan, Chief Customer Success Officer at UNIFY Solutions. “Our three teams made up three legs of the stool. Along with building trust with your stakeholders, that kind of partnership and collaboration are vital elements of success.”

Yet another powerful instance of where Microsoft has stepped in to support the security of public data is in the case of the Government of Nunavut, Canada’s largest territory. Home to citizens and residents across 25 communities and three different time zones, Nunavut experienced a ransomware attack in late 2019 that resulted in the shutdown of 5,500 computer systems.

By partnering closely with Microsoft, the Government of Nunavut not only recovered from the attack within six weeks, but it also went through a digital transformation that enhanced digital security across the 25 communities they serve. Microsoft solutions, such as Microsoft Sentinel, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, and Azure Active Directory, made it easier for the Government of Nunavut security teams to protect IT systems comprised of 800 servers across their 2-million-square kilometers of 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.

Strengthening trust and security within government agencies

As demonstrated by the real-world examples above, the provision of secure government services is imperative to the digital health and safety of the societies we live in. Register today to learn more about cyber security and how to safeguard your agencies from common threats.

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

Stay up to date on Microsoft’s global approach to Government by visiting our website at Microsoft for Government.