Why the Future of Security Is Cloud Native

Recent changes in federal cybersecurity policies and standards are positioning agencies to take full advantage of new and emerging capabilities in cloud, mobility and related technologies.

In particular, the recent release of Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) 3.0 and the evolution of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program provide agencies with a framework for supporting a distributed enterprise that encompasses remote offices and teleworkers. For agencies, the challenge now is to adopt security solutions that provide the scalability and flexibility this environment requires.

To explore the ramifications of this shift, GovLoop spoke with two subject matter experts at enterprise cybersecurity vendor Palo Alto Networks: Dan Beaman, Regional Sales Manager for Federal Systems Integrators, and David Knisely, Director of Federal Business Development Capture.

New Model, New Possibilities

When the Office of Management and Budget launched the TIC initiative in 2010, its goal was to reduce the federal government’s attack surface by limiting the number of public internet connections and directing all network traffic through security stacks in the data center.

The limits of the original TIC model became apparent with the emergence of cloud, mobility, the internet of things (IoT) and, more recently, broadband wireless solutions. As applications and data moved to virtualized environments, it no longer made sense to require all traffic to pass through the data center as the original TIC model required.

“Government is recognizing that there are much more robust technologies and security controls that they haven’t been able to capitalize on,” says Beaman.

One of the use cases of TIC 3.0 is the mobile worker. Thanks to the increased capabilities of mobile devices and increased bandwidth, agencies now have countless users in the field. With TIC 3.0, agencies can provide those users with better performance and security by moving security controls closer to them. “The CDM Program has also evolved, adding cloud-related security capabilities and data protection management that extends beyond the network perimeters,” says Knisely. He adds, “With agencies now shifting 50% or more of their workloads to the cloud, such changes had to happen.”

Why Cloud Native Security?

The importance of supporting the remote workforce has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led many agencies to allow employees to work from home. The situation also provides a key use case for natively cloud-based solutions.

Most agencies have the capacity to enable some employees to securely telework some of the time, but what happens when a large number of employees need to work remotely all at once and with little notice?

In theory, a cloud-based security solution should provide the necessary flexibility and scalability. However, many so-called cloud solutions were not designed for the cloud but instead retrofitted for it, relying on script languages to provide automated capabilities. Facing a surge in demand, such solutions are “falling down because they don’t have the speed and scale to dynamically flex,” says Beaman.

Palo Alto Networks Prisma™ Access is a cloud-native secure access service edge (SASE) platform that helps Federal agencies deliver networking and security to branch offices and remote users. Additionally, the company provides Prisma Cloud, a DevSecOps platform that supports the development of cloud-native applications.

Both Prisma Access and Prisma Cloud have achieved InProcess designation for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), working toward a FedRAMP Moderate Agency Authorization.

“Even once the COVID-19 crisis has eased, these kinds of capabilities will be critical to agencies because remote work has become the new norm,” Knisely says.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Your Guide to Mission-Driven Cybersecurity.” Download the full report here.

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