Enhancing Cybersecurity Through Automation

This interview is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, Innovations that Mattered in 2016. Download the full guide here.

The cybersecurity landscape is rapidly changing. As nefarious actors get more sophisticated with their methods, government organizations must develop more effective ways to counter infiltrations. However, having the capacity to counter cyberthreats is difficult when an organization is burdened by legacy systems.

While hackers are moving more rapidly towards innovative ways to infiltrate systems and extract data, government agencies are still slow to respond because they lack the necessary tools with their legacy systems. This means that more than ever, public sector organizations need to work towards system upgrades to prevent and better counter cyberattacks.

In order to understand how government can upgrade its legacy systems, GovLoop sat down with Prem Jadhwani, Chief Technology Officer at Government Acquisitions, Inc. (GAI), a leading technology solutions provider for federal government.

A key takeaway? The biggest hurdle government must overcome is manual systems. “Automation is key,” Jadhwani explained. “You cannot sit and counter attacks manually, you have to leverage things like machine learning, natural language processing, and big data analytics.”

Embracing these new solutions has allowed agencies to operate more holistically and efficiently, taking processes that used to be protracted and turning them into very rapid responses. Additionally, moving from legacy systems to automated and updated processes gives organizations end-to-end visualization on a single dashboard, allowing decisions to be made accurately and efficiently.

Another solution is using a hybrid cloud. Jadhwani explained that agencies have typically been putting their data in private clouds because of perceived security issues with public cloud platforms. “But for the first time in the past year or so, we’ve seen government customers moving some data to the public cloud while still wanting to utilize the private cloud,” he said. This shift stems from the flexibility, scalability, cost effectiveness, and agility to respond to threats that the hybrid cloud models provide.

From a security perspective, a hybrid cloud allows agencies more control over how and where their data is secured. “For a private cloud, it is up to the solution provider and the government customer to ensure that all the security controls are in place, but with a public cloud, the cloud service provider will ensure that they are fully compliant with security controls.” This risk management framework, builds security into cloud solutions, guaranteeing that agency data is secure no matter where it is stored.

Like hybrid cloud solutions, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) also works to reduce hardware while maintaining security. HCI is a scalable and adaptable datacenter architecture that enables security through consolidation. In legacy systems, hardware is comprised of three tiers: server, storage and hypervisor. However, each of these components come from three different vendors. This means the three layers cannot talk to each other and the infrastructure isn’t scalable.

Hyperconverged infrastructure integrates the three tiers and makes them scalable, meaning the agency is not limited by the original hardware that they purchased. “You can start with three loads and keep adding more depending on your workload,” he explained. “But it is a pay as you go model so as you add more data to the cloud you just pay for that data.”

As agencies scale out more and more, it enables the hybrid cloud by fostering software multitenancy and simplicity in both public and private cloud platforms. This manages the infrastructure securely allowing the government customer to focus more on the mission rather than worrying about how they are going to manage different layers of infrastructure.

In order to enable these solutions, GAI works to bring together service providers and partners to provide secure and scalable solutions to government agencies. For example, GAI’s Hyper Converged Analytics Platform, or HyperCap, brings together industry partners to automate systems scanning and provide agency partners with a fully-validated end-to-end data analytics solution for security operations.

Looking forward, Jadhwani emphasized that these advancements will continue to be widely adopted. “There is going to be a lot of money spent on tech refresh because agencies are sitting on very outdated infrastructure,” he said. Overcoming these obstacles that stem from outdated infrastructure is key to preventing future cyberattacks.


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