Proactive Defense: Network Security Management for Municipal Offices

two men sitting in front of computers in an office

When establishing a network within a municipal office building or updating existing infrastructure, implementing a robust system for this type of environment is essential. Typically, municipal entities deal with confidential data-critical information.

It is imperative that the networks that handle and store this information are secure. Some simple steps should be taken to ensure the network is as robust as possible.

Risk Assessment

One of the most basic yet important tasks is to carry out a risk assessment of the municipal office environment and the network. Every possible threat to municipal operations must be reviewed and evaluated, and all eventualities must be planned for.

The potential impacts of security breaches on critical operations should be assessed, and the impact of possible security breaches should be reviewed. Similarly, it is important for municipalities to review just how likely a cyber attack might be and what would be the worst-case scenario of such a breach.

Although this is not a fun task, it certainly is essential. Specific types of municipalities are often more at risk than others, specifically those that house sensitive data about consumers and residents.

Asset Inventory

When establishing a new office or even carrying out some housekeeping in an existing office, keeping an accurate and up-to-date inventory of all municipal network equipment is imperative.

Across the entire office, it is important to keep track of vital information regarding equipment and valuables, but it is absolutely essential from an IT security perspective.

All devices – from laptops and tablets through to smartphones – must be tracked and recorded if they have access to the municipal network. Keeping track of all devices ensures that network infrastructure management is aware of when an unauthorized device might be accessing critical or confidential information.

From a simple management perspective, keeping track of all devices ensures that all hardware and software updates are installed and no device is left vulnerable to cyber breaches.

Vulnerability Audit

Another essential key practice for IT departments is regularly scanning and assessing the municipal network for potential or real vulnerabilities. Once potential weaknesses have been identified, plans should be made to both prioritize and address network vulnerabilities based on their severity.

Good IT practice should involve establishing a routine for applying security patches and updates to keep the IT infrastructure safe and secure. Similarly, ranking potential issues and future upgrade plans can help with budgetary planning.

Network Segmentation

When establishing a municipal network, a critical first step is to isolate critical systems and restrict access to the most confidential or sensitive information.

Office hierarchy and work organization charts should be established. Access to certain network areas should be granted only to certain employment positions or members of municipal leadership.

The benefit of network segmentation is the ability to monitor and log traffic between network segments.

Security Awareness Training

Good general IT department management ensures that all employees, including those in leadership positions, consistently attend security awareness training sessions.

It is a good idea to encourage staff to attend security awareness training at least quarterly to educate them on the best security practices, alongside keeping them abreast of the latest security threats and phishing tactics. The overall goal of continual training is to foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness.

Incident Response Plan

It is essential to plan for the worst possible types of incidents, whether that is an extreme weather event or massive network failures. A comprehensive incident response plan should be developed to address the detection, response, and recovery plan from major incidents.

Another key strategy is conducting frequent training and drills to ensure all staff are familiar with IT policies, directives, and procedures.

Municipalities often have oversight and control of systems that impact thousands of residents, so incident response plans that address mass outages are critical to ensure that a recovery plan is in place. A huge example of resident-impacting network security is the Keystone Pipeline incident.

Continuous Monitoring 

Implementing a robust network monitoring system that will alert IT management when abnormal or potentially malicious activity is detected is very important. This network monitoring will allow IT leadership to identify and block potentially malicious traffic.

Another benefit of continuous monitoring is the ability to review and assess logs for signs of unauthorized access or non-typical user behavior.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a multi-step login process. MFA requires users to use more than just a password to get into their accounts. For example, a municipal employee may be asked to enter a password followed by a numerical code sent via email or text, scan a fingerprint, or answer a security question.

Using a second form of authentication can prevent someone outside the organization from gaining access. Cybercriminals can actively find compromised passwords, allowing them to access multiple accounts and the private information of people in the municipality.

MFA acts as an added layer of security that prevents unauthorized users from getting in, even if they do have the passwords.

Conditional Access

Conditional access should also be a part of a proactive defense network security management plan for municipal offices. Computing has switched to a cloud-centric model, making managing and protecting data more challenging.

It used to be that the people accessing municipal information and accounts were all under the same roof, using computers and other devices owned by the municipality. With a cloud-centric model, people may have to access the network from a variety of places.

Some may work for the municipality directly; some, like vendors or other partners, may not. Conditional access is a system that depends on signals from various sources about the trustworthiness of the devices and users attempting to access the system.

It may consider things like specific groups or users, IP addresses, particular platforms or devices, the use of specific applications, and risk detection. Users who do not meet these access requirements will be given conditional access until they are compliant.

With the proper setup, the system guides users through this, so they don’t have to contact IT or a help desk. Put simply, conditional access ensures that the right people access the right information under the right circumstances.


Another critical step for IT departments to implement is the concept of encrypting data at all times, not just when it is in transit. These days, data is just as vulnerable in storage as when it is being transferred. 

A key aspect of a municipal IT policy should include protocols for safely transferring data when sending internally and externally. IT policies are only successful if all staff are aware of their importance and they are actually enforced throughout the entire municipal system.

Audits and Safety Assessments

Earlier in the article, the concept of testing and auditing was outlined. It is particularly important to continue to audit and assess the measures put in place following these initial audits to gauge the success of the initial remediation.

Frequent security audits are useful for IT departments to evaluate the effectiveness of performance defense strategies. Similarly, conducting regular penetration testing within the network can identify any additional areas of vulnerability and also assess the effectiveness of current measures.


By following these key steps, IT departments within municipal offices can establish a robust and proactive defense for their own network. A secure and well-implemented plan diminishes the risk of malicious cyber threats and protects key data.

Learn more about security management and network security solutions at Infinity Network Solutions.