Why choosing a hosting service can benefit your youth justice services
Data hosting isn’t the most interesting, or even the most relevant, topic of conversation for youth justice workers. Yet it plays a vital role in underpinning the processes that youth justice teams implement in working towards their ultimate goal: improving outcomes for young people. So, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to look at why data hosting is so important for youth justice workers and teams.
First and foremost, securing your data is paramount. As we’ve seen recently with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Hackney Council, the cost of losing data can be huge. Both councils fell victim to ransomware attacks, costing both significant sums of money and majorly disrupting their services. While bills ran into the millions, the disruption also affected vital service delivery, including those to vulnerable young people.
Having your data securely backed up at regular intervals helps to minimise the effects of a hack, or even something like a natural disaster. The process is designed to cover the worst-case scenario.
By utilising an external hosting service, you are also leveraging their security spend. Keeping data safe inhouse is a hugely expensive process. Microsoft, for example, spends well over £1bn every year on security. Tapping into that spend helps to reduce your costs.
Such organisations are always updating and testing their infrastructure, too. The reputational damage to a company such as Microsoft or Amazon Web Services would be vast if a successful attack was carried out against them. It’s in their best interests to keep everyone’s data secure.
In utilising a fully managed hosting solution, youth justice teams can switch the expense of hosting from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure. This frees up funds that can be diverted to frontline resources; improving outcomes for the young people in your service.
It also keeps you fully in control of your data and how it is used. Permissions can be tightly controlled and the flow of information likewise. This is important in ensuring that your data is only accessed by the right people, at the right time.
This helps to keep your services running during times of strain. When something like a global pandemic occurs, and everyone is suddenly forced away from the office, keeping your service joined up is vital. A single point of access helps with this, maintaining the provision of requisite data to your team to enable your services to continue running.
You also have control over how regularly your data is backed up, according to the needs of your youth justice team. This offers increased flexibility over the cost, too.
Peace of mind
So, let’s imagine the worst-case scenario has come to pass. You’ve been hacked. What happens next?
If your hosting is done inhouse, then you’ve got a serious issue. All the data hosted on premise is lost. Identifying what has gone missing and how you will recover it is all but impossible.
By utilising a fully managed hosting service, the only loss to your organisation will be the time since your data was last backed up. As this will be done regularly, losses will be kept to a minimum. You can simply switch to your backed up data and maintain your service delivery. If your data is backed up irregularly, or not at all, the consequences can be far graver.
A new era of data regulation was ushered in by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. One of its central tenets is security. Losing personal data can lead to fines. Big fines. Being able to evidence that you’ve done all that you can to protect sensitive data goes a long way to appeasing the regulator in worst case scenarios.
It is, however, another factor to consider. Choosing a hosting partner with up to date, relevant security certificates, for example ISO 27001, is crucial in this respect.
Ransomware attacks, such as the one experienced by Hackney Council, are often the result of phishing attacks. Put simply, these are malicious emails designed to look legitimate so that people within your organisation click on them. Once details have been entered, attackers can easily access your system. This means that your frontline security is only as strong as its weakest link.
Opting to utilise a fully managed hosting solution can mitigate the impact of this weakness. It can never resolve it, however, only complimenting robust governance and systems. Ongoing staff training and awareness is vital in minimising the initial risk of a cyber attack. Should the worst happen, your system response will either exacerbate or minimise its impact.
On-premise hosting requires individual equipment, maintenance and power supply. Switching to a co-hosting or cloud solution reduces your energy consumption. There is a commitment by all companies and agencies to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption – switching your hosting solution can contribute to meeting these commitments. At a time when energy costs have risen significantly, taking the green option isn’t only good for the environment.
From time to time your software will need updating. When you choose a hosted service, your provider will usually carry out this work as part of its services. This means that you don’t need to worry about planning IT time in ahead of an upgrade process, your provider will let you know when it’s happening and everything will be taken care of for you. This significantly reduces the stress and burden upon your resources in completing such work.
Utilising a hosting service carries a multitude of benefits for your local authority and its youth justice services. From reducing cost and helping to meet environmental targets, to meeting regulatory requirements and freeing up resources to focus on other projects, hosting can fundamentally support your youth justice services.
It may not be the topic at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but it is worth considering the worst-case scenario – what if your authority is attacked, or data goes missing? With nefarious hackers constantly seeking to exploit weaknesses, considering the fundamental impact of a successful attack is important. Losing data on vulnerable young people will have a huge bearing on the service that you need to provide to them. Improving outcomes for them is, ultimately, the desired outcome.
Whilst hosting may not be a silver bullet to these threats, it can mitigate their impact if they are successful. At the same time, it can reduce costs and your carbon footprint.
For more information on CACI’s hosting services for youth justice teams, please click here.