Gov Automation Gets a Security Upgrade

In almost every statehouse, courthouse and legislative body in the U.S. today, there is cybersecurity legislation pending. Cybersecurity has become the paramount issue facing government IT, and getting the proper tools and resources is critical for all levels of government. But with the increased pressure to stay secure comes new ways of working to make things easier and more efficient.

IT automation can provide the foundation for secure, cost-effective operations and continuous innovation across the government IT landscape. These advanced solutions work by automating the detection of malware and malicious code, which prevents bad actors from gaining entry into valuable systems. Using smart technology and automation, organizations no longer have to purchase individualized, special tools or hire more staff to monitor their systems.

So, how can your agency take advantage of these solutions?

During today’s Gov Trends Virtual Summit, GovLoop spoke with Christopher Grimm, Consulting Architect, and Greg Tinsley, Consultant at Red Hat, about how automation can help IT address the increasing demand for speed and simplicity. Automation tools like Red Hat’s Ansible — an open source IT configuration management, deployment and orchestration tool — can help agencies turn their security posture from reactive to proactive.

When compared to other management or security tools, Ansible is unique in that it can address a wide variety of IT challenges such as orchestrating complex workflows by following a simple playbook, or unifying OS configuration and application software deployment under a single banner. It is an agentless tool that runs in a “push” model, meaning that no specific software has to be installed on remote machines before they can be managed by one control host.

Ansible is minimal in nature, but also highly secure, reliable and easy to understand. “The main idea is ‘living off the land’ — using tools that are already in place, flying below the radar and functioning alongside normal traffic and protocols,” explained Grimm.

It is also designed to be very simple to deploy and accessible to administrators, developers and IT managers of all skill levels. “All you need is to create a module and define your configuration parameters before you basically press play,” said Tinsley. “This management tool abstracts away the complexity for users.”

Grimm and Tinsley outlined some of the main features and benefits of Ansible automation:

  • Automation across IT. Repetitive tasks can be automated using a simple, readable language that anyone in your organization can understand.
  • Tackle complex challenges. Red Hat’s Ansible Tower can help teams manage complex, multitier deployments by ensuring consistency and compliance across the entire enterprise.
  • Reduce repetition. Ansible can work with the systems, applications and tools that your organization already has in place, and reduce the complexity of existing environments and processes.
  • Get started simply. Because Ansible is agentless and doesn’t require the installation of new software, it’s easy to get started. Ansible also helps IT teams collaborate on issues ranging from networking, development, infrastructure, applications or security.

Though Ansible’s automation features can help agencies with a diverse range of functions, cybersecurity remains at the forefront of agency concerns. “When it comes to cyberattacks, the key thing to remember is that any person or system can be a target, and targets can take almost any form,” said Grimm. Using a management solution like Ansible to harden your enterprise or run offensive security across thousands of systems can enable coordinated, improved security across your organization.

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