As the country shifts emergency communication systems from legacy platforms to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), it is extremely important to protect sensitive information. These advanced technologies affect public safety, and compromises to these systems can have severe consequences. Below, our team of experts go into detail on the importance of cybersecurity in NG9-1-1, potential threats, and best practices for securing these crucial public safety systems.

The Importance of Cybersecurity in NG9-1-1woman-cybersecurity-worker-wearing-glasses-and-close-up-of-her-face-and-computer-screen-with-code-showing-ng9-1-1-cybersecurity-and-protection

NG9-1-1 utilizes Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies to improve emergency response communications and services to include multimedia messaging, improved call routing, location accuracy, and interoperability. However, moving 9-1-1 services to the internet exposes systems to cyber threats.

Cybersecurity for Next Gen 9-1-1 is paramount to ensure things such as service continuity, data protection, and system integrity. Each of these pieces is important for emergency response to provide uninterrupted and safe access to services. In addition, these systems handle sensitive information, including caller locations, health records, and real-time video feeds. Protecting this data from unauthorized access and breaches is critical to maintain public trust and privacy.

Potential Cyber Threats to Next Gen 9-1-1 Systems

Utilizing any IP-based technologies can potentially introduce cyber threats, including:

  1. Denial of Service, or DoS, attacks. Occurs when attackers send an influx of traffic to the NG9-1-1 networks, blocking the system and preventing actual emergency calls from passing through.
  2. Ransomware. This occurs when attackers attempt to lock the important NG9-1-1 data and ask for money to regain access. This can freeze emergency services until the problem is solved.
  3. Data breaches. These happen when a cybercriminal gains unlawful access and tries to compromise the data, such as the identity of the caller and the emergency management strategies.
  4. Spoofing and phishing. This occurs when attackers employ some specific methods to mimic legal users or use phishing attacks to trick users into providing their passwords and give them access to the system.

While these all sound intimidating, these are all known threats of using IP-based technologies that NG9-1-1 vendors work to mitigate every day. Let’s now discuss the best practices our team uses to ensure your Next Gen 9-1-1 System is secure at all times.

Best Practices for Securing NG9-1-1 Systemsback-of-womans-head-at-her-desk-with-multiple-computer-monitors-in-front-of-her-with-various-graphs-and-code-resembling-next-gen-9-1-1-technology-and-cybersecurity

To mitigate cybersecurity risks, it is important to implement a number of cybersecurity measures:

  1. Network Segmentation
    1. Isolating different components of the NG9-1-1 system can prevent the spread of cyberattacks. For example, if one section of the network becomes compromised, and your components are already segmented, then the rest of the components should remain secure.
  2. Encryption
    1. Data encryption helps prevent data leaks and unauthorized access. End-to-end encryption means that only the people who are allowed to access the data can do so.
  3. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
    1. Applying MFA for all users accessing the NG9-1-1 system adds an extra layer of security. Therefore, making it more difficult for attackers to gain access with stolen credentials.
  4. Regular Security Audits
    1. Another practice that should be frequently carried out is security audits and vulnerability assessments. This will check for any weaknesses in the system that might be exploited.
  5. Incident Response Plan
    1. An effective incident response plan means that in the event of a cyber attack, the measures of containment, damage control and service recovery are well defined. In turn, helping to restore service as quickly as possible.
  6. Employee Training
    1. Training staff to respond to cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them, including phishing emails, is very important. This will help to minimize human mistakes that may lead to the compromise of the system.
  7. Collaboration with Cybersecurity Experts
    1. Engaging with cybersecurity professionals and organizations can be beneficial in providing valuable insights and support in protecting NG9-1-1 systems from emerging threats.

Protecting the Public

The world of emergency response is constantly evolving and we need newer, advanced technologies and processes to continue to improve emergency services. As with all new technologies, there are risks and threats that cannot be ignored. Taking preventative measures and continuously monitoring data and risk is essential to ensure safety and reliability, and this includes Next Gen 9-1-1. In conclusion, understanding the potential threats and best practices to mitigate vulnerabilities is important for continued public safety.