Compliant FOIA Software Solutions: When And How The Beauty Of FOIA Becomes The Beast Of Data Leaks

Posted by James Bailey

when and how the beauty of FOIA becomes the beast of data leaks

Western societies take liberty seriously. We have our governments tied with legal frameworks to keep track of everything they do, and after a set time, these documents become publicly accessible through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).

But sometimes, this mechanism to store documents and prepare them for later disclosure can be a pain point. Documents can leak due to human error. Or it can get hacked. Then, we get to see our government secrets leak and end up in the wrong hands. Sometimes, our liberties are at risk because of such leaks.

This puts Federal agencies, especially those that deal with FOIA in a very vulnerable situation.

FOIA Agencies: Transparency vs. Security

50 years since the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in 1968, U.S citizens have been enjoying the right to have access to undisclosed information managed by the U.S Government.

According to the numbers the U.S Department of Justice reports every year, this interest continually increases. This year, the US Department of Justice reported that the number of submitted FOIA requests for 2017 is more than 800.000.

FOIA requests increase each year

As the number of FOIA requests increases, so does the responsibility of FOIA agencies to protect data and maintain public confidence and safety.

To carry out FOIA operations i.e to process, maintain and report necessary information, FOIA agencies are dependent on robust information systems and electronic data storage facilities. And, unfortunately, these systems make FOIA agencies an ideal target for self-proclaimed freedom activists that hack into government data storage centers and steal confidential documents.

Cyber Threats For FOIA Agencies

Cyber risks come in roughly two forms: technical security exploits by hackers, and social hacking. We solve the technical exploits vulnerability by security patches and updates of hardware and software systems. But social hacking is a bit different. It exploits vulnerable, dissatisfied employees.

Data leakage and cyber attacks are not rare in FOIA agencies. FOIA agencies face cyber threats more often than we want to admit.

According to the report the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued this year, over 70% of Federal agencies are ‘at risk’ or ‘high risk’ form cyber-attacks.

The worst part about cyber threats is that very often FOIA agencies can do nothing to stop hackers. This comes mainly from the fact that FOIA agencies use outdated FOIA Software Solutions that ineffectively protect government documents. These IT systems are incapable of protecting cyber assets from attacks which leads to:

  1. Inappropriate disclosure, modification, or destruction of sensitive information.
  2. Threaten national security, economic well-being, and public health and safety.
  3. Compromise personally identifiable data that put real people at real risk.

So, what can FOIA agencies do to deflect cyber-attacks and protect the Government and the citizens form data leakage?

The answer is simple. But the solution is complex.

The government worked on different data management legislation frameworks like FedRAMP and DoD 5015. We get regular updates of these documents almost every year, to keep up with the growing threat of data theft.

The way FOIA agencies can use these guidelines is to simply look for an FOIA software solution that is FedRAMP compliant as well as DoD 5015 compliant.

A quick Google search on “FedRAMP compliant FOIA software solution” or “DoD 5015 compliant software solution” is a good start.

At the moment of writing this text, I see that it’s, in fact, Armedia that ranks in the top few positions on Google. That’s because we have a very strong focus on FedRAMP and DoD 5015 compliance.

ArkCase FOIA Software Solution: The Reliable, Compliant Solution For FOIA Agencies

ArkCase FOIA software solution

Balancing the public’s right to information with the need for cybersecurity is a difficult job. But, modern technology and standardized workflows can make this a reliable process.

Our team at Armedia knows how important cyber-security is, and with our 15 years of experience in the industry, our team knows how to be a leader in the game.

Trying to help FOIA agencies to increase transparency, without crossing the thin line between transparency and security, we’ve partnered with ArkCase to build the ArkCase FOIA solution. In my humble opinion, this is perhaps the top-range modern FOIA Software Solution.

In collaboration with industry leaders like ArkCase, Alfresco, AWS, Ephesoft etc. we provide customized, robust FOIA Software Solution with the following features:

  1. Customized processes/procedures/controls. This customization prevents those unintentional cyber-threats we talked about. This way each employee will know when and what to do in the process, reducing time, effort, human errors, and data leakage.
  2. Federated and advanced search. This feature allows employees to easily search through the documents for a specific keyword and key phrase. This way, your employees can easily find needed information and respond to the FOIA requests much faster.
  3. Security and access controls. Armedia has collaborated with Alfresco, the only open-source and DoD 5015 compliant data management platform. This means that with the ArkCase FOIA Software Solution, FOIA agencies don’t need to worry about data security. We have built-in security measures that will stop any prying eyes from ever seeing something that’s not supposed to go public.
  4. One interface for communication. Unlike the old e-mail systems for communication that outdated solutions use, the ArkCase FOIA Software Solution uses one interface for communication with both colleagues/departments/organizations and requesters.
    This feature dramatically contributes to the prevention of cyber attacks and data leakage.
  5. Centralized database. The centralized database of this FOIA Software Solution allows great storage and easy access to all data in one single place. Armedia uses AWS Cloud for secure data storage so every FOIA agency can be sure their data is safely stored and can be accessed whenever needed, only by authorized people.

All these features add up to a modern FOIA Software Solution that helps FOIA agencies protect themselves from cyber attacks while at the same time improve their performance and productivity.

Let’s Wrap Up

modern FOIA software solution for cyber security

It’s no secret that cyber threats loom over FOIA agencies. And unfortunately, there are people who abuse our society’s transparency and hack into systems to steal our data. This is a threat to governments and individuals world-wide.

To prevent cyber attacks or human errors, Armedia relies on industry disruptors like ArkCase, Alfresco, and AWS to provide a customized, modern, reliable, secure, and cost-effective FOIA Software solution.

The ArkCase FOIA Software Solution helps FOIA agencies protect sensitive data and reduce the FOIA backlogs, from one place, at an affordable price.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about our experience in integrating and customizing the ArkCase FOIA Software solution, please feel free to contact us.

Now it’s up to you

I would like to hear your thoughts about data security in government agencies. Especially what you think FOIA agencies should do to be always a step ahead of the threats.

And if you’ve had first-hand experience with solving the data security issue for FOIA agencies, please share your insight.

And don’t forget to share this blog post on social media. We’re working to make the world a safer place, and we need all the help we can get to spread the news. Thanks!

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