The importance of data monitoring and Zero Trust in battling ransomware

By Derek Giarratana, supplier manager

Ransomware is real and security threats continue to evolve, with new ones emerging daily. At times, organizations can feel that they won’t fall victim to ransomware, but now is not the time to ignore the facts. In 2019, it was reported that ransomware attacks were up by 41 percent, and in 2020 with the pandemic at the forefront, it was predicted that an attack occurred every 11 seconds.

In addition to the sheer volume of attacks, today’s ransomware and malware are also gaining in sophistication. Using random extensions and file names, the latest threats are making detection using blocked list solutions difficult and, in many cases, completely ineffective.

Every time an attack occurs, it takes significant time and money to remediate. Recovery time takes, on average, at least 16 days, and 67% of organizations that have been hit by an attack have lost all or part of their data. This is particularly problematic for public sector organizations that are faced with strict compliance requirements such as HIPPA, GDPR, CIPA, and CJIS.

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SLED 101 Series – Understanding the IT Budget

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

In our last installment we walked through the budget process to help you target your customers at the right time. In this, our third installment of our SLED 101 series, we focus on IT budget distribution, state-by-state spending and the importance of engaging with the right stakeholders. This information can help you focus your sales efforts more strategically and develop more targeted account lists.

Let’s start by looking at the pie chart below with a breakdown of IT spending by jurisdiction type or level of SLED government.

IT budget distribution

For 2021, IT spending in SLED will be just north of $100B. Spending proportions and ranges will vary for each state and or local government, however, almost 40% of that spending will be done by state governments. Higher Ed, Special Districts, K-12 School Districts and Cities all sit around, 12–15% each.

To give a bit more context to the SLED spending estimate, let’s look at a heatmap of estimated IT spending by state. You can use this heatmap in conjunction with the pie chart to segment your territory even further.

State-by-state spending

States like California, Texas, Florida and New York all have large IT budgets, making them prime targets for opportunity development. That doesn’t mean that states like Montana or North Dakota with smaller IT budgets do not have any IT opportunities, but that those IT opportunities will likely be smaller in scope.

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StateRAMP: An Outgrowth of FedRAMP for SLED

By Troy Fortune, VP & General Manager

Is StateRAMP on your radar screen? If you are a cloud software vendor and trying to sell into the state, local and education market, I encourage you to pay attention.

Modeled after FedRAMP, StateRAMP is gaining traction among many state CIOs. For the last seven years cybersecurity has topped the priority lists for CIOs at the state, local and education (SLED) levels, yet there are no established security standards they have all agreed to.

StateRAMP plans to leverage the existing FedRAMP assessment and approvals processes to help simplify the implementation for government and industry. Logistics for FedRAMP to StateRAMP transitions are still being finalized but vendors should look for the marketplace to launch in Q2 of 2021.

Cyberattacks on the Rise

Cyberattacks in SLED have amped up in recent years and become increasingly sophisticated, targeting sensitive citizen PII data. Many organizations have begun taking steps to protect their databases and systems, but those measures vary widely from state to state and even department to department. The expanded use of cloud-based systems to house and manage critical services like Medicaid and unemployment insurance only increases the risk. Unfortunately, few standards exist for cybersecurity or cloud security, which makes the protection of their sensitive data even more challenging.

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SLED 101 Series – Follow the Funding

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

This second installment of our SLED 101 series focuses on funding and budget cycles.

Not all money is created equal when it comes to state, local and education (SLED) funding. Understanding where money comes from and how budgets are built will help you better time and align your sales efforts to when your customers will be most receptive to new IT project ideas.

Funding sources dictate spending flexibility.

Let’s start by understanding the different sources of spending. The largest chunk of spending in most states comes out of what is typically referred to as the General funds budget. This budget represents the largest share of revenue collected by states and significantly impacts a state’s overall ability to spend. General funds have the most flexibility and are recurring funds received yearly. They can be used for a variety of products and services, including include IT. Most of your sales will come from this budget.

The other pieces of the pie, like Federal or Other state fees, have stipulations and limitations on their use, making them a bit more challenging to leverage. This isn’t to say that there aren’t IT opportunities related to Federal funds or Other state fees, just that those funds are less flexible in their use and allocation.

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Top Four 2021 State CIO Priorities

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

The release of the Top Ten Priorities for State CIOs in 2021 in December by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), places digital government at the top of the list for the second year in a row. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of certain technologies by government as they look to provide quicker and more efficient services to citizens and employees.

Looking at the year ahead, state governments recognize that they will continue to need technology solutions that support digital modernization for applications that enable remote workforce accessibility and online interactions with citizens. Here are the top four technology priorities that CIOs are looking for:

(1) Cloud Solutions

With the migration of traditional in-person services online, cloud technologies are crucial to deliver services en masse. Cloud solutions allow agencies to operate more efficiently, delivering services to a larger number of citizens. However, agencies will need vendor assistance to help them through the migration process so that services are migrated seamlessly, with no loss in uptime.

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SLED 101 Series – What is the SLED market?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

Welcome to the first blog of our SLED 101 series. Over the next few months, you’ll see a series of blogs that walk through the basics of the state, local and education markets. Topics will include understanding the budget cycles, identifying the IT budget, navigating CIO priorities, understanding procurement, differentiating master contracts and cooperative contracts, and finally, comparing the SLED market to the federal market.

To kick things off, I wanted to start by defining what the SLED market entails and why understanding their independence is crucial to success. When we talk about SLED, we are talking about more than 90,000 different government organizations.

  • 50 States
  • 3,000+ Counties / Boroughs / Parishes
  • 36,000+ Cities / Towns / Municipalities
  • 12,000+ Public School Systems
  • 2,000+ Higher Education Institutions
  • 38,000+ Special Districts
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Helping States Align the Right Resources to Combat the Opioid Crisis

By Charles Castelly, SLED Market Intelligence Analyst

States are increasingly relying on a multi-pronged, data-centric approach to tackle some of the biggest health crises of our time. The Commonwealth of Virginia, like many other state and local governments is grappling with containing both the current pandemic as well as the ongoing opioid crisis, both of which continue to ravage communities according to Carlos Rivero, Virginia’s chief data officer in a recent podcast interview.

Fortunately, in tackling the ongoing opioid crisis, a few best practices and lessons learned have emerged that industry should take note of when pursuing opportunities here. States like Virginia now realize that a fully integrated and coordinated combination of cloud services, enterprise applications and cutting-edge cybersecurity is most effective for tracking and anticipating where resources are needed most.

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2020: A Year of Continued Government Contract Growth for immixGroup

By Adam Hyman, Director, Government Programs

2020 will certainly be a memorable year for the obvious reasons. It was also a busy year for government contractors with a host of new government regulations, initiatives and opportunities for new contract vehicles. At immixGroup, we kept very busy throughout the year acquiring new vehicles – both federal and SLED – to support our suppliers’ and partners’ go-to-market strategies and to enable their efficient revenue growth.

Protecting Our Base

During this past year, immixGroup first ensured that we maintained the contracts we currently hold, which are critical to our suppliers’ and partners’ success. On the federal side, immixGroup finalized an extension to one of its largest contracts, NASA SEWP V, for an additional, and final, 5-year period.

Additionally, immixGroup executed extensions to its Army ITES-SW contract to avoid lapse in coverage while the Army finalized awards for its follow-on contract. immixGroup also executed extensions to some of its various DoD ESI Agreements and several SLED contracts, including Pennsylvania COSTARS, State of Oklahoma, and one of its CMAS contracts.

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Three Top Cloud Opportunities in the SLED Market

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

As I discussed in my recent session at the Arrow Technology Summit (now available on-demand), state and local governments are slowly making investments to upgrade and update aging legacy IT systems. As they do, they are presented with opportunities to increase their use of the cloud to provide digital and online services that will expand their constituent support — an especially important goal as many government buildings are currently closed.

While state governments are making larger and more substantial migrations to cloud services, many states are still working on what I’ll call the basics, things like email or other collaboration tools. Also topping the list are disaster recovery and office productivity tools. States that had already migrated these solutions to the cloud have had a significant advantage in terms of their preparedness to support a large-scale work-from-home environment. Read more of this post

SLED Cybersecurity Opportunities: The “Whole-of-State” Approach

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

Cybersecurity incidents increase every year, and state, local and education entities are struggling to respond in the face of limited funding and resources.

As I talked about in a recent virtual event, that response is taking the form of a synchronized “whole-of-state” approach to state and local cybersecurity initiatives. In this approach, all stakeholders – state IT, national guard, local law enforcement, local government and schools – are pulled together to develop a cohesive and coordinated response plan. The plan leverages state services, such as incident management, awareness and training, forensics, use of the security operations center and vulnerability management.

The potentially good news here is that additional federal funding may be coming to help states and local governments tackle cyber issues. The House has passed the State & Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act. If enacted as law, this measure will provide some $400M per year for states to coordinate with local governments on a cohesive security plan and response strategy, and to support upgrades to state and local systems.

Here are just a few categories of opportunities to consider, in this new era of SLED cybersecurity: Read more of this post

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