Citizen data. The federal government has it, and bad actors want it. Cyber threats surround agencies on all sides, creating a constant challenge to protect sensitive information about Americans.
And these threats – like criminals, hackers, activists, and even insiders – have innumerable targets, as well as pathways to hit them.
IT systems contain many potential access points for these attackers. Broadly, agencies have four control points to monitor. They are:
- Endpoints – An agency’s desktop, server, mobile and Internet of Things devices that can connect, store and exchange data.
- Networks – The key infrastructures that agencies use for exchanging data between end users. These include their on-premise, off-premise, mobile and web architectures.
- Email – The electronic communication systems that agencies utilize. (and)
- Cloud environments – The public and private clouds that agencies deploy and the applications, infrastructures and user access points existing across them.
Guarding these areas is essential for limiting cyberattacks. Agencies that fail to prevent cyberthreats risk bad reputations, financial losses and public outrage. Sometimes, data breaches can endanger national security by putting U.S. secrets in the wrong hands.
Protecting these access points is difficult and predicting which ones will get hit first is even harder. Agencies need to proactively think about cybersecurity to prevent such painful cyber incidents.
The rise in sophisticated cyberattacks and the increasingly broad attack landscape means that agencies must adopt integrated cyber defense. This security model combines threat protection, information protection and compliance enforcement with federal standards in one framework. Even better, it shields every control point agencies have.
However, many agencies haven’t achieved integrated cyber defense. Why?
Cultural aversion to change is one factor – employees and leaders are often reluctant to learn new cybersecurity strategies when they’re accustomed to existing ones. Plus, changing familiar practices requires energy, time and leadership investment that can be hard to come by when focusing on many other mission-critical tasks.
Additionally, many agencies don’t have the right tools in place. Most government organizations are heavily invested in legacy cybersecurity systems that don’t span the entire IT environment and don’t combat the modern threats of today. But replacing these outdated tools can be extremely expensive, disruptive and time consuming, making many agencies hesitant to move forward.
And finally, agencies often lack the functions that make integrated cyber defense possible. Integrated cyber defense requires threat intelligence, security operations services and open ecosystems – all of which demand increased labor or automation, as well as cyber expertise.
But while agencies often point to these issues as reasons not to create an integrated cyber defense, that strategy can actually reduce technology complexities and costs. And it unifies cloud and on-premise security, smoothing the transition from legacy to modernized IT systems. The outcome for agencies is cost savings, tougher cybersecurity and easier retraining for their employees.
How do you achieve integrated cyber defense? Check out our recent 10-minute, on-demand course, Creating an Integrated Cyber Defense, to find out.