According to the 2022 Forrester Wave Cybersecurity Incident Response Services report, 63 percent of global security decisionmakers have reported one or more data breaches in the last year. This rise in cyberattacks and the recent executive order to improve the national cybersecurity defenses has created a unique opportunity for federal agencies to find ways to bolster cybersecurity defenses.
1. Implement Zero Trust Architecture
In a recent webinar, leaders in federal government security gathered to discuss the building blocks of Zero Trust architecture. Eric Mill, Senior Advisor in the Office of Management and Budget for the Biden Administration, explained the inherent need for Zero Trust architecture. “The central idea of Zero Trust is to make sure that we do not grant more trust than is necessary,” Mill explained.
Zero Trust isn’t about making government employees jump through hoops to access files. At its core, it is about putting the right automation and authentication tools in place to ensure that government employees can access and share files securely from anywhere. By using security methods like multi-factor authentication, agencies can ensure that they provide more robust defenses, can limit access in the event of a breach, and ensure there is no single point of failure.
2. Stay in the Know by Increasing Threat Intelligence
Forrester noted in a recent report that it’s impossible for any agency to effectively track cyberthreat trends or emerging cyberattack campaigns without an external threat intelligence provider. Threat intelligence providers can provide key insights that enrich an agency’s primary source intelligence.
In a recent interview with Government Technology Insider, Luke McNamara, Mandiant’s Principal Analyst, explained the value of building organizational threat intelligence. “Agencies must first understand the categories of threat actors they should be most concerned with in order to build their own threat model,” McNamara explained. “External threat intelligence can play a useful role in not only shaping that initial view of the [threat] landscape, but on an ongoing basis allow organizations to better understand how these threat actors may be evolving in terms of capability or what campaigns they may be currently conducting domestically and abroad.”
3. Identify Potential Security Vulnerabilities
As agencies continue to modernize and implement new technology, it can be difficult for security teams to keep track of potential vulnerabilities within their organization. Some vulnerabilities like Log4j may exist within an agency’s application code whereas other vulnerabilities may result from a lack of cyber awareness training for agency workers.
Attack surface management applications provide agencies with “comprehensive visibility throughout the agency’s network, continuous monitoring for exposures, and operationalized intelligence.” These tools can help security and IT teams to have 30 percent more visibility into assets. Agencies can improve risk mitigation by having a clear picture of what assets and potential vulnerabilities exist within their network.
Public sector agencies are often working with tight budgets, that can make it difficult to implement a full suite of security measures. McNamara explained that by better understanding potential vulnerabilities and common methods of attack, “agencies can better apply limited resources to scope how to best approach these threats and better secure themselves from attack.”
By its very nature the cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing. It’s important for agencies to implement tools that will defend their network from a near constant barrage of novel attacks. By implementing a Zero Trust architecture, increasing threat intelligence, and identifying potential security vulnerabilities agencies can bolster their cybersecurity efforts and better mitigate risks now and in the future.
Learn more ways that your agency can bolster cybersecurity defenses here.