Home » Why Governments and Agencies Are Targeted by Cyber Attacks A Deep Dive into the Motives

Why Governments and Agencies Are Targeted by Cyber Attacks A Deep Dive into the Motives

by Sentinel One
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Cyberattacks documented throughout this year have shown an increasing interest in targeting global governments and agencies. Fraught with hit after hit, governing bodies were not spared by ransomware operators in 2022 even though, out of all other sectors, they are least likely to pay out ransom demands.

Threat actors are typically driven by financial gain, but with many states considering no-ransom bills and official directives from the FBI reminding governments to refrain from paying ransom demands, what could be the motives behind the rise in public sector-focused attacks?

This blog post explores why more cyber attacks are directed at the public sector and what defenses government agencies can implement to protect against them.

Attacks on the Rise The New Perimeter in Building Cyber Resiliency

President Biden’s national security memorandum from last summer underscored the need for building cyber-resilient infrastructure and systems. In response to this release, NIST and CISA jointly released new Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs) to help critical infrastructure sectors kickstart their security efforts. Described by CISA as a minimum set of best practices, the CPGs provide actionable goals on the topics of account, device, and data security.

At the root, account, device, and data security all start at the identity surface. As more high-value sectors move towards remote workforces and create digital identities to share information and collaborate, that surface widens, leaving them vulnerable to identity-based exploitation. By looking at identity as the new network perimeter, enterprises can scale down that attack surface by detecting threats in their earliest stages.

Before the data loss stage, enterprises that can identify over-privileged users, cached credentials, and other identity-related cyber hygiene issues can prevent the initial breach from happening at all. The importance of identity threat detection and response will only grow as threat actors leverage weak endpoints and social engineering tactics to find their way into networks.

Governments managing immense databases especially need to reduce the changes of cyber intrusion by implementing identity authentication security solutions (e.g., MFA), endpoint detection and response (EDR), remote access validation, privileged account audits, and stringent password policies.


Advanced cyber threats such as ransomware, phishing and whaling campaigns, and DDoS attacks have beleaguered governments globally in 2022, taking malicious advantage of their sluggish policies and departmental silos. Up against uniquely motivated threat hacktivists and data-hungry cybercriminals, governments have found themselves at the number two spot in most attacked sectors this year.

Reported attacks from this year alone clearly indicate that this critical sector needs to advance its cyber resiliency and implement cybersecurity best practices to reduce its attack surface. Solutions that provide complete visibility are most effective, given the breadth of data networks managed and processed by governments and agencies.

Solutions should leverage identity-based security tools capabilities leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to fight back against ransom operators and sophisticated social engineering schemes. Removing limited network visibility ensures governments can monitor endpoints and data more effectively while detecting and responding in real-time to security events before they can lead to catastrophe.

While no entity is immune from cyber attacks, governments can examine the top attacks reported in 2022 through an educational lens to secure better the data of those relying on their services. Learn how SentinelOne can help enterprises build cyber resilience through autonomous endpoint protection by contacting us today.

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