The public sector threat landscape is constantly growing. With an increasing number of endpoints due to remote work and evolving architecture, agencies are vulnerable to a variety of threats. From ransomware to phishing, agencies must defend their endpoints and networks from bad actors looking to infiltrate systems and steal valuable data. Agencies can defend their growing networks with a combination of automated cyber tools and a knowledge of current threats.
Recently, Chris Cleary, Chief Information Security Officer, Department of the Navy, Gary Austin, Assistant Director, Center for Enhanced Cybersecurity, Government Accountability Office, and Major General Earl Matthews USAF (Ret), Vice President, Strategy, Mandiant Security Validation, came together to explore how agencies can overcome these challenges by utilizing tools that are built to secure the mission. These experts discussed the importunate of endpoint security, staying current of global cyber threats, and the importance of automated tools, and most importantly, answered the question on every agencies’ mind: How do you build an effective system?
The answer lies in Intelligence–led validation. Matthews shared that security controls are in a constant state of degradation. With intelligence–led validation, an automated tool, testing, patching, and defending is handled, so security controls are kept up to protect data and networks. Although most agencies are striving to do this manually, they’re missing updates and tests that leave room for bad actors to sneak in, explained Austin.
“I don’t think the C-level executives at agencies really understand what the threat is,” said Austin. These security issues are of utmost importance, but they don’t always have budget dollars dedicated to their upkeep. “It seems like we are still back in the early 2000s with a lot of these issues.” And, the recent Security Effectiveness Report by FireEye Mandiant echoes Austin’s concerns.
As a country “we are having a cyber hygiene problem. Sixty-seven percent of the testing attacks were not being prevented, 74 percent of these attacks went undetected, and more concerning to me, is that when the event book is complete, only 9 percent of the attacks are actually being correlated back at the SIEM,” said Matthews, discussing data from the report.
Cleary explained that these issues stem from a lack of understanding and appropriate tools. Agencies are having trouble implementing the right technology to keep systems and networks up to date. Missed patching and accidental misconfiguration are just a few of the areas weakening cyber defenses. To build a strong cybersecurity posture and improve cyber hygiene, agencies should look to automated technologies that rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence to verify users and systems – protecting every aspect of the agency.
“The best that we can do is see the end goal as more of the horizon,” said Cleary. It’s a learning and growing process, a moving strategy,” he said. And agencies need tools that can move and grow with them, he concluded.
It’s time to bolster cyber defenses. Click here to learn more from the experts.