The surge in Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption is transforming the technology landscape across most sectors. According to a report by BetterCloud, 70% of business applications used by companies are estimated to be SaaS-based. While the retail industry has been a major adopter of SaaS solutions recently, governments are increasingly recognizing the value of leveraging this technology to enhance their operations and citizen services.

Every day, government agencies carry out duties critical for millions of citizens, ranging from managing money to overseeing the military and judiciary. With these tasks comes a weighty responsibility: safeguarding and managing vast volumes of sensitive data.

By providing comprehensive encryption protocols and centralized, scalable platforms, SaaS plays a crucial role in ensuring the secure storage, movement, and management of sensitive information for government agencies. Via SaaS solutions, these agencies adeptly manage access to, safeguard, and regulate confidential data — all while maintaining rigorous adherence to security standards and compliance necessities.

Benefits of SaaS Adoption in Government Sectors

Government agencies utilizing SaaS need to meticulously evaluate the shared responsibility model, understanding while certain aspects like physical security and operating systems might be covered, safeguarding sensitive data remains primarily the responsibility of the government entity.

SaaS is a perfect resource for agencies replacing traditional software models which require custom designs, timely installations for on-premises hardware, and ongoing maintenance contracts. Historically, the government has faced challenges in the adoption of new software and heavy IT infrastructures, and SaaS solutions have been specifically designed to meet the demands of the public sector’s IT requirements more effectively. Additionally, because SaaS solutions are cloud-hosted, government agencies can save money without the need to allocate resources on building an IT infrastructure or worry about scalability.

By adopting SaaS, government agencies can experience the following benefits:

  • Improved operational processes.
  • Save money.
  • Increase flexibility and scalability.
  • Enhanced user experiences.
  • Expanded data accessibility.
  • Vigorous security and compliance measures.

The adoption of SaaS can not only fortify the operational efficiency of government agencies but also stand as an instrumental cornerstone in enhancing data security and compliance measures, ensuring a resilient and agile framework for public service in the digital age.

Challenges in Data Security for Government Agencies

From 2014–2022, the U.S. government suffered 822 breaches that affected nearly 175 million records. Based on the average cost per breached record, government entities have lost over $26 billion.

Despite the extensive benefits of SaaS, governments face a significant challenge when adopting SaaS: data security and protection. Often, the assumption is that SaaS providers shoulder the complete responsibility for data security. However, the reality is these providers typically offer only basic data protection features, leaving a crucial gap in comprehensive security strategies for government entities.

Crafting an effective data protection strategy has proven imperative for governments operating in a multi-SaaS environment. With agency usage of numerous SaaS applications, managing data across diverse platforms poses a significant challenge. Each application instance used by different government departments or agencies becomes a potential point of vulnerability.

In terms of the management and securing of sensitive data, challenges facing government entities include a lack of trained personnel and outdated tech — also known as “legacy systems,” which are expensive to maintain and at a high risk for cyberattacks. Instead of replacing legacy systems entirely, organizations should find modern technology built for seamless integration within these systems for maximum usability.

In addition, government agencies must also take compliance and regulatory requirements into account when establishing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) provides a standardized approach for the authorization, continuous monitoring, and security assessment of cloud services and products.

Addressing Concerns and Mitigating Risks

Neglecting to account for vulnerabilities such as viruses, insider threats, or human errors in the SaaS contract can potentially lead to data loss or breaches, which for governments can have severe repercussions beyond financial losses. Breaches compromise citizen trust, impacting the government’s credibility and effectiveness in delivering services.

One solution to mitigate these risks is the adoption of vendor-agnostic backup solutions, which are compatible with various technologies and allow for seamless integration across different platforms regardless of brand or provider. Bringing data protection together in one platform simplifies managing multiple SaaS apps, making data protection easier. Having a unified system gives a complete view of the government’s SaaS tools and automates backups, providing a streamlined data protection solution.

A vendor-agnostic solution not only minimizes administrative complexities but also offers enhanced security against ransomware attacks or accidental data deletion. Governments can maintain immutable backups in independent clouds dedicated solely to data protection, ensuring compliance, and reducing dependency on larger cloud service providers.

Conclusion

As governments increasingly integrate SaaS into their operations, evolving data protection strategies become imperative. Establishing a vendor-agnostic SaaS data protection strategy equips governments with the benefits of SaaS while instilling confidence in the safety and recoverability of their data, regardless of potential contingencies. By implementing robust data protection measures, governments can embrace the advantages of SaaS technologies while upholding their commitment to safeguarding sensitive citizen information and ensuring uninterrupted service delivery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Dutra

Anthony Dutra, technical marketing engineer at Zerto, an HPE company offering disaster recovery and business continuity software solutions.

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