ChallengeThe Supreme Audit Office’s report on government’s cybersecurity, published in 2015, revealed a series of major shortcomings in that field. The report triggered a discussion about the state’s cybersecurity. The missing link in that discussion was the question of security solutions in self-government units, which are the key element of the country’s administrative infrastructure. City, commune and poviat offices and other local structures store and process sensitive data about each and every citizen. They also handle huge amounts of public funds electronically. In 2015, self-government spending exceeded PLN 200 billion.
The Supreme Audit Office’s report did not cover that area, and thus the cybersecurity of Polish self-government has never before been examined.
The public sector is one of Fortinet’s areas of operation, so there was an opportunity to use this topic in order to increase the brand’s awareness among decision-makers in that sector and highlight the problem of cybersecurity of Polish self-government units. The campaign has also benefited from the ongoing lively discussion in the media about state and government digitization, which has become one of the government’s priorities.
SolutionIn order to get the picture of cybersecurity at self-government units, together with PBS we have designed and conducted a telephone survey addressed to IT decision-makers, on a representative group of 200 self-government offices. The probe’s structure reflected the structure of self-governments in Poland. The basic questions to be answered by the survey were:
- how do self-governments assess the cybersecurity of their offices?
- what do self-governments need in order to improve cybersecurity?
- what barriers do self-governments face on the way to improving cybersecurity?
The survey report was to serve as a basis for materials for further media relations activities, including one-on-one meetings with key journalists, with the announcement of presenting the survey results and a press conference for representatives of nationwide media. Additionally, the project involved producing a short film summarizing the report findings. The film was to form a part of a press kit and be used for internal communication within the company. As part of preparations to recording and press conference, professional media training was organized for the Fortinet’s representative.
Representatives of “Forum Od-nowa” think-tank, which among others prepares analyses related to digitization of self-government units, and “Fundacja Bezpieczna Cyberprzestrzeń” foundation were invited as the campaign’s partners. Both experts provided comments for press materials, and the representative of Forum Od-nowa took part in the press conference. The involvement of independent institutions was intended to increase the campaign’s credibility and enrich the press materials with additional expert contribution.
The survey revealed that while self-government representatives assess the cybersecurity in their units as good, one in three offices does not have the basic security solution, namely the firewall. According to the surveyed officials, lack of funds is the main barrier on the way to improving cybersecurity. Moreover, the use of EU funds for IT systems implementation is insufficient: 87% of offices declared that they finance investments in security infrastructure from their own funds. The survey results revealed key problems related to self-governments’ cybersecurity and confirmed the conjectures about major shortcomings in that field which should be urgently addressed.
EffectsThe survey conducted for the purpose of the campaign has delivered first comprehensive insights into the assessment of Polish self-government’s cybersecurity.
Press materials prepared for the campaign have been used in over 70 publications, including leading opinion-forming media such as: Rzeczpospolita, Puls Biznesu, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna and Gazeta Polska Codziennie dailies. The press conference coverage including the statement of the Fortinet’s representative was broadcast in news programs by Radio III and five local broadcasting stations. Report-based articles appeared in two key magazines related to self-governments which directly reach decision-makers at self-government units: Wspólnota and Gazeta Samorządu i Administracji.
The ensuing discussion made people more closely examine the issue of cybersecurity at particular self-government offices, which was discussed among others by local media from Opole and Elbląg.
Fortinet started to be perceived as an expert in cybersecurity solutions for local government, which is proved e.g. by an increased number of invitations to self-government-related events, and interest in training courses.
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