Florida has joined a long list of states prioritizing cybersecurity infrastructure investment for their local governments. In February 2023, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez announced $30 million in grant dollars in its Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program.
But why is Florida prioritizing local digital infrastructure to ward off hackers? And how can your local government utilize funds?
Follow along for insight into why these grant funds were approved, the specific details around how local governments can get their funds, and ways that your municipal or county government can modernize your cybersecurity infrastructure.
Even if your local government is not in Florida, this post may be useful to understand requirements from another state that may soon impact yours.
Why Did Florida Approve the Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program?
Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez approved $30 million in local government cybersecurity grant dollars, under the management of the Department of Management Services (DMS), to continue Florida’s effort to, “lead the way with record efforts that tackle growing cyber threats head-on.”
With hackers often targeting local governments due to their often antiquated computer systems and possession of sensitive data, municipalities and counties in Florida and beyond need to upgrade their systems to keep government data secure and operations functional.
What are the Key Takeaways From the Passage of Florida Cybersecurity Grant Dollars for Local Governments?
Applications were to be submitted by local governments to receive funds on March 31, 2023. There is no match obligation for local governments with these grants.
Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Pedro Allende was quoted highlighting the crucial areas local governments should focus on to improve their cybersecurity, stating, “proactive coordination, information sharing, and coordinated responses are key facets of a good cybersecurity program to defend assets, identify threats early, and respond decisively to deter and mitigate attacks.”
How Can Florida Local Governments Prioritize Cybersecurity?
Learn more about the crucial components of a government cybersecurity strategy and the types of government technology that can be paid for with grant funds to bridge existing cybersecurity gaps:
1. Choose Government Technology Partners You Can Trust
A local government digital transformation has far more advantages than disadvantages, but your leadership needs to choose wisely when it comes to putting your faith in technology partners.
Without sufficient cybersecurity infrastructure, adversaries can gain access to your sensitive data through your private sector partners.
Learn more about How Public Entities Can Choose Private-Sector Partners.
How Does GovPilot Prioritize Cybersecurity?
GovPilot has strategically partnered with Microsoft Azure for its government data storage due to Microsoft’s prioritization of cybersecurity advancements in its cloud technology.
Additionally, GovPilot takes steps internally to enhance the company's cybersecurity posture through staff training, encryption, and other best practices.
Learn more about Software Solutions for Every Local Government Department.
2. Proactive Coordination
Strong government communications are essential when it comes to cybersecurity. Channels between your local government departments, private government contractors, as well as the state and federal governments are needed to
- Securely communicate and share sensitive information between government entities, citizens, and business partners.
- Report government data breach incidents to state and federal officials as quickly as possible.
- Pass along educational resources as hacking techniques evolve and lessons are learned from hacking events with Florida governments and other national and international government entities.
How Can Government Software Help With Communications?
Your locality can consider using your grant dollars to coordinate one streamlined operating system for local governments to keep internal and external communications across departments under one computer system.
GovPilot government software uses cloud technology to allow for simplified and cyber secure communications from government devices in the office and remotely in the field.
3. Regular Data Backups
A key goal for hackers performing ransomware attacks is to steal sensitive data with and threatening to delete it permanently if a ransom isn’t paid. Your local government needs to have all of your sensitive data regularly backed up to ensure that even if a breach does somehow occur, you won’t have to face the permanent loss of critical data and documentation.
Gain insight from historical government hacks in this Government Data Breach Examples & Lessons guide.
What Government Technology Can Ensure Regular Data Back-ups?
GovPilot performs data backups multiple times a week, ensuring that your sensitive data will permanently be accessible from the cloud regardless of if a hack occurs.
Learn more about How Modern Government Data Storage Works.
4. Cybersecurity Training for Government Officials
Human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches. From phishing scams to malware downloads, there are many ways that a hacker can trick an underprepared government official to gain access to sensitive information.
When onboarding government software, GovPilot onboarding specialists will provide training for your staff about cybersecurity best practices (and general best practices for making the most of the technology.)
Learn more about How to Train Government Officials On Cybersecurity.
5. Regular Investment in New IT Infrastructure and Maintenance of Existing Infrastructure.
State Chief Information Officer James Grant was quoted saying, “In a world full of threat actors, Florida’s technology infrastructure is only as strong as our weakest link… I strongly encourage Florida’s local governments in need of cybersecurity support to apply [for the Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program], whether they’re improving existing infrastructure or starting from the ground up.”
In your government strategic planning, city administrators and other department heads need to regularly assess the quality of your IT infrastructure. When hiring government tech workers, look for officials that are not only able to maintain existing infrastructure, but can also pay attention to cybersecurity and IT trends and provide insight into opportunities to innovate in your local government as a key portion of your government IT strategy.
And remember, grant funds can bring an influx of cash to your government budget for cybersecurity. Be sure to consider these Federal Cybersecurity Grants for Local Governments and BEAD Broadband Grants for Rural Governments for more potential digital infrastructure funding beyond the Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Program.
6. Move to a .Gov Domain
Too many governments continue to use .net or .com domain names, despite .gov domain names being substantially more secure. Consider using grant funds to upgrade your government website to be more cybersecure (and more functional / user-friendly for citizens and business partners to use.)
Upgrade Your Florida Government With Cybersecurity Grants
Florida recognizes that local governments need to prioritize cybersecurity to keep sensitive data safe and citizen services operational. Grant funds for local government cybersecurity are your locality's chance to modernize your technological infrastructure for the better. Use your funds to prioritize trustworthy tech partners that will store your data in the cyber secure government cloud and backup your data on a regular basis.
To learn how using grants to acquire GovPilot can upgrade your cybersecurity while simultaneously saving time and money through automation of workflows, book a free demo.
Florida Cybersecurity Grant FAQs
What is the Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program?
The Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant program was announced in February 2023 with the goal of encouraging Florida local governments to build new digital infrastructure and maintain existing infrastructure to keep government data safe and secure.
$30 million in grant funds is being allocated to local governments that applied before the March 31, 2023 deadline. The program is being administered by the Florida Digital Service (FL(DS])
Why is Florida Prioritizing Local Government Cybersecurity?
Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez summarized the objective of “We know that criminals do not care about jurisdictions, and this $30 Million grant offers local governments of all sizes the opportunity to protect themselves and stay at the forefront of cyber resilience.”
How Can Local Governments Prioritize Cybersecurity?
In order to keep your government data secure and services operational, local governments need to use their budgets and grant dollars to:
- Upgrade and maintain digital infrastructure
- Choose strategic tech partners with a proven track record keeping government data safe and secure.
- Regularly backup critical data to avoid permanent loss from a data breach. (Strong tech partners will perform these data backups across departments for you.)
- Have communication channels in place that keep internal department communications private.
- Have processes in place to contact state and federal officials in the immediate wake of a data breaching incident
- Train government workers on common hacking tactics to prevent a breach from human error.
- Hire top notch IT workers that can monitor and maintain your systems as well as pay attention to cybersecurity trends.
How Should Florida Governments Utilize Cybersecurity Grants?
The Florida state government is putting $30 million into local governments to upgrade and maintain cybersecurity infrastructure with the goal of prioritizing, “proactive coordination, information sharing, and coordinated responses.”
Here are ways that you can consider upgrading your IT infrastructure to accomplish these goals:
- Embrace cyber secure communication channels: GovPilot moves communications to one streamlined online platform across departments. Encrypted messages can be sent from any government device to other departments, state and federal departments, citizens, government contractors, etc. allowing for remote government work from a computer or mobile field device and simplified information sharing.
- Store government data in the cloud: Antiquated computer systems like in-house servers are a common target for hackers. Move your data to the government cloud for better security and regular data back-ups. Learn more about the Government Cloud vs. In-House Servers.
- Train government workers: allocate dollars towards cybersecurity training to ensure universal proactive coordination across departments and prevent breaches from human error.
Read more from the Government Trends blog:
- Modern Challenges Faced by Local Governments
- NJ 3-Day Government Cyber Incident Reporting Law
- NJDOH Grants for Local Health Department Infrastructure
- American Rescue Plan Act: What It Means for Local Governments
- Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act: What It Means for Local Governments
- Promoting Digital Equity in Local Government
- Tips for City Managers & Administrators
- Digital Government Payment Processing Service Considerations
- Local Government Asset Management Strategy
- Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez Announces Launch of $30 Million State Cybersecurity Grant by Florida Dept. of Management Services
- CYBERSECURITY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT by Florida League of Cities
- Governor Ron DeSantis Introduces Groundbreaking Legislation to Protect the Digital Rights and Privacy of All Floridians by Governor Ron Desantis
- Florida Targets Big Tech, Announces $30M in Local Cyber Grants by GovTech
- Data Governance by Profisee