This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Shielding Your IT Operations With a Software-Defined Secure Network.” (SDSN) Download the full report here.
Many government agencies are leveraging both public and private cloud services to handle the increasingly huge amounts of data they store. These services are designed to meet the sensitivity level of the data stored on each platform.
Though the fluidity of this multi-cloud model makes it challenging for agencies to defend against cyberthreats, on top of satisfying the requirements of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program and other federal benchmarks.
CDM aims to fortify cybersecurity for federal networks and systems. Building on the previous phases, which seek to figure out What and Who are on the Network, Phase 3 – What is Happening on the Network – focuses on detecting and mitigating security events across blurred boundaries.
Fortunately, a software-defined secure network (SDSN) can address these challenges. SDSN is an approach that incorporates, unifies and automates security throughout the network to defend against today’s sophisticated threat landscape. SDSN enlists platforms from throughout the network to act as security enforcement points and create a comprehensive defense domain, automatically and dynamically detecting and responding to threats as an ecosystem rather than as a collection of individual entities.
Below are best practices for agencies to reap the benefits of a SDSN — such as staying ahead of cyberthreats and bringing new levels of efficiency to their security teams — as well as comply with CDM requirements.
1. Automate your security and compliance
Automation is a necessary component of SDSN. It allows agencies to detect and mitigate cybersecurity risks faster, and it also quickens the rate at which they can comply with federal security standards. Both outcomes free up more energy and time for employees to perform higher-level, more mission-critical functions.
2. Reach CDM cybersecurity benchmarks
CDM assists agencies by finding and ranking the biggest security risks to their infrastructures. It relies on automated, agency-installed sensors to continuously monitor known cyber flaws. An organizational dashboard then informs network and security managers about their most serious problems. This assists them with better allocating their resources and responding to problems more efficiently.
SDSN boosts the speed at which agencies can reach CDM standards using automation for continuous monitoring and mitigation of cyberthreats. Meeting these requirements improves the cyberdefense posture of both your agency and the overall federal government.
3. Understand and adhere to CDM phases
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in November 2018 that the CDM program has recently shifted focus to capabilities, rather than a phased approach. Despite this, each phase offers important cybersecurity insights to agencies.
SDSN is especially relevant to CDM’s Phase 3, as it concerns what’s happening on a network. This is because CDM’s capabilities include data at rest and in transit, user activities and behavior and device, host, network and perimeter components. Given every section of SDSN constantly finds and stops cyberthreats, it’s the perfect model for Phase 3.
Phase 3 is crucial for moving beyond asset management to more dynamic, extensive monitoring of security controls. Agencies that deploy CDM tools are more capable of recognizing dangers on their networks and halting them from causing additional damage elsewhere.
4. Partner with a knowledgeable vendor
CDM sets high security standards for the federal government and implementing SDSN with its many capabilities is a complex process. Having private sector partners with expertise on the program is a valuable resource for agencies. These companies can save energy, money and time for their public sector counterparts by helping them more quickly implement SDSN at CDM levels.
Download the full report now and find out how your agency can monitor and defend against cyberthreats in real-time using SDSN.